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Alumna Spends the Summer Volunteering at Syrian Refugee Camp in Greece

Writing on the wall at a Syrian Refugee Camp

Samantha Hubner, a May 2016 Belmont alumna, is spending the summer volunteering as an English teacher, dance instructor and professional development workshop facilitator with Lighthouse Relief, a organization that provides services to the Ritsona Syrian Refugee Camp in Chalkida, Greece. Aimed at working with refugees ages 16-25, Lighthouse encourages participants to develop their interests, looking towards their futures.

Primarily spending time in Lighthouse’s Female Friendly Space, Hubner’s work with the organization is inspired by the project she completed last summer in Morocco as a Lumos Scholar, a program facilitated by Belmont that allows students the opportunity to “travel with a purpose.” Hubner will spend the summer working alongside Ritsona’s women–empowering them, providing educational opportunities and assisting in vocational development. “The primary purpose of the Female Friendly Space is to give the women a place to go to come and relax,” Hubner said. “Though my time here has been short so far, I have already seen the insurmountable value of this space to them.”

Hubner completes a conversation lesson with Senior 2 students during study hours at her full-time position as a foreign teacher at a high school in China,

Nashville’s Thistle Farms visited the camp in April to aid in vocational skill development. Partnering with Lighthouse Relief and I AM YOU, Thistle Farms launched the Welcome Mat Project, an initiative seeking to help women refugees gain economic freedom. Created from the fabric of life jackets worn by refugees on their journey from Syria to Greece, the woven welcome mats serve as a symbol of acceptance and solidarity and will create a form of income for participants.

Currently working full-time as a teacher in China, Hubner will spend one month of her summer vacation at Ritsona before visiting family and friends in the States and returning home for the start of the upcoming school year. Ultimately, Hubner hopes to translate her international experiences to a career in diplomacy. “I hope to use my experiences abroad, both as a foreign teacher in China and a volunteer in Camp Rtisona, to deepen my understanding of diplomacy in action,” Hubner said. “I believe that the best way to fully prepare myself for a career in diplomacy is by seeing firsthand the potential benefits and the consequences of diplomatic decision-making. My current employment in China and my current work in Greece provide that contrast.”

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