SHINE FAQs

Is Project SHINE right for me?

Volunteers should be native English speakers. There is no age limit to participate, however, we seek volunteers that are 18 years of age or higher. Most of our volunteers are undergraduate or graduate students or professional educators that work in public or private schools in the US.

Project SHINE is demanding of one’s energies and attention. Please be advised that you will be working in a hot climate, with limited resources at your disposal. Volunteers will face cramped living conditions and frequent electricity and water shortages, both in the working and living spaces. You should be a good team player, one who can exhibit cultural sensitivity, acute adaptability, be ready and open to learning, and political awareness.

What will I do?

You will teach English to Palestinian youth in the refugee camps of Lebanon, as well as train teachers in order to help improve their English proficiency. In addition to this, you will also lead an extracurricular activity class, including but not limited to arts, crafts, music and drama. You will also chaperone student field trips and be required to attend educational seminars.

Who are my supervisors during Project SHINE?

Each camp group will consistent of volunteers who are supervised by three coordinators: (1) a Project Coordinator, (2) an Education Coordinator, and (3) a Community Coordinator. Volunteers are guided and supported by their team of coordinators throughout the program. Additionally, coordinators are responsible for ensuring smooth operation of the program on a daily basis.

Is the region safe?

The Levant region specifically is under constant threat of violence. With that said, our specially designed orientation program is tailored to help adjust volunteers to their host environment. It is essential to take into account that LEAP and Project SHINE’s administrators put volunteer safety at the forefront of their considerations.

The LEAP team is kept abreast of current threat levels through close coordination with international organizations, local NGOs, and experts on the ground in Lebanon. Please consult your embassy’s specific instructions, and make sure you have the contact information of their mission in Lebanon should you need to reach them in an emergency.

I do not speak Arabic, can I still participate in Project SHINE?

It is not a requirement to speak Arabic for Project SHINE. Every summer, a number of volunteers with no knowledge of Arabic participate in the program. There are always SHINE volunteers and coordinators who possess a strong knowledge of Arabic. Additionally, many Beit Atfal Assoumoud staff (LEAP’s local partnering organization for Project SHINE) will speak English. During orientation, SHINE will provide a list of helpful phrases to remember. It is always encouraged to learn a few basic phrases before coming to a new country.

How do I get to Lebanon?

 Volunteers will be responsible for purchasing their flights to and from Lebanon. Project SHINE will provide an airport pick-up on designated arrival dates.

I have been to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and/or Israel, can I still enter Lebanon?

Volunteers with passport stamps indicating their entrance into the Occupied Palestinian Territories and/or Israel are required to obtain a new passport in order to enter Lebanon. American citizens are able to obtain a second American passport under a special provision, thus allowing them to enter Lebanon.

What are the costs associated with the program?

Volunteers are expected to pay $650 upon their acceptance to the Program. The majority of the project fee payment will go towards housing (beds, pillows, electricity, water, basic supplies), local transportation costs for volunteers, and general operational costs for Project SHINE, such as printing, supplies, tshirts, field-trips, etc.

Volunteers are encouraged to seek funding assistance through grants and scholarships at their universities, and other fundraising options can be found online. In addition, crowdfunding through friends and family can also prove to be successful.

Will there be an orientation?

Project orientation will take place before the start of the program, when all volunteers have arrived in Lebanon. The orientation will cover volunteer schedules, historical and cultural information, and an educational training portion to acclimate the volunteers to their new roles as volunteer teachers. Moreover, volunteers will receive an education orientation to guide them through the curriculum packet. Additionally, prior to departure, volunteers will participate in a conference call with fellow camp group participants and coordinators.

What is the housing situation for volunteers like? Do we stay with a host family or are all the volunteers housed together?

You will live with other SHINE volunteers in shared apartments separated by male/female gender. The apartments are cramped, have few supplies and accessories, as they are usually unfurnished. Most offer only fans, mattresses, pillows and lights. Electricity is scare and depending on your location water may also be limited. Volunteers may have to share one or two bathrooms with up to 10-12 other volunteers within their apartment. Most apartments will not have a usable kitchen. Internet is not guaranteed in most apartments. 

All volunteers are housed in shared apartments. No volunteers stay with a host family.

About how many volunteers are placed in each camp? What is the size of each camp group?  Will we have a chance to connect before hand?

Camp group size varies based on the amount of teachers necessary to serve the student population within each camp. Camp groups range from around 10-20 volunteers.

There is a googlegroup that is created once the Project SHINE team has been confirmed. Volunteers will be able to connect with the other members assigned to the same region and get to know one another. Volunteers will also be introduced to their respective education, project and community coordinators. Volunteers will further have a chance to virtually meet each other and their coordinators during a pre-departure conference call.

How should men and women dress both while inside and outside of the camps?

All volunteers will be provided with multiple SHINE tshirts which they will be required to wear during working hours in the camps and on student field trips. Volunteers are not required to wear anything over or under the tshirts. All volunteers must wear pants or skirts down to the ankles while working. High heels should not be worn in the camps.

During non working hours, all volunteers are expected to respect local cultural norms in their dress and attire. Women should never wear sleeveless, low cut or see-through clothing. Additionally, pants, skirts and dresses should always be down to the ankle. Clothing that is very tight should be avoided. Men should not wear sleeveless shirts or shorts above the knees.

Volunteers in the Tyre region face similar attire expectations while working in the camps as in the city during off hours. However, volunteers in Beirut confront a much less conservative environment if venturing into certain neighborhoods of the city. Despite this, volunteers must be mindful of the clothing they are wearing while leaving and entering the camp, even if they will be spending time in a less conservative Beirut neighborhood.

All volunteers are encouraged to keep tattoos hidden if possible.

As  a female with a Muslim background (although I myself am not practicing), out of respect for the culture I would like to observe hijab; so would someone there be able to help me purchase appropriate clothing, since I am not completely sure what would be most fitting in this setting?

Yes, there will be places to purchase said items of clothing in Lebanon. Please also be advised that many of these articles of clothing are available in the U.S. for purchase on the internet.

Is there a curfew during Project SHINE and what are some additional program rules?

All SHINE volunteers in both cities and in all camps abide by the same curfew set and enforced by their coordinators. The curfew also applies to all SHINE coordinators. The curfew must be followed during weekdays and weekends. This is necessary in order to respect local cultural norms and for security reasons.

Additional rules include a strictly enforced policy against any alcohol, drug, or illegal substance use during the entire duration of Project SHINE. This applies to all volunteers in Tyre and Beirut, including weekends and after work hours.

Volunteers are not allowed to stay the night in the homes of community members. In general, volunteers are required to always stay the night in their assigned apartment, unless if granted permission by their coordinator for unique circumstances.

Finally, volunteers are prohibited from having intimate relations with members of the community or fellow volunteers and coordinators.

I am a vegetarian and I would like to stick to a vegetarian diet as much as possible. Will it be difficult to adhere to a vegetarian diet during my time in Lebanon?

The Lebanese cuisine offers many options for vegetarians and it will be possible for volunteers to find vegetarian food options.

Since Ramadan will be occurring during Project SHINE, would you support volunteers who wish to fast during the day?

Volunteers are definitely supported in their decision to fast during the month of Ramadan. The decision to not fast during Ramadan is also acceptable. All volunteers are expected to follow cultural and religious norms during the month such as not eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing gum while in public or in front of students, community members, or colleagues from our partner organization.

What items should I bring with me for the month of SHINE?

Upon acceptance into Project SHINE, each participant will receive a welcome packet which includes a list of recommended items to pack. In general, volunteers should pack light bringing with them culturally appropriate clothing. Tank tops, shorts, short skirts, low cut shirts, and similar clothing options are inappropriate in the conservative Muslim communities in which SHINE volunteers will work. Volunteers should pack all necessary toiletries, although these can also be purchased once in Lebanon. Recommended items include a power adapter, flash light with extra batteries, moist wipes, sun screen, bug spray, first aid kit, bed sheets and pillow case, backpack and more.

Volunteers are strongly encouraged to bring with them an unlocked mobile phone. Most volunteers will also bring a lap top computer and digital camera.

Do you have some detailed information on how the LEAP program is run? Specifically, I am wondering how the organization is funded, who runs the program (is it local or run by foreign nationals), organizational structure, etc.

LEAP is administrated on an entirely volunteer basis with no paid staff. We are a grassroots volunteer program. LEAP consists of a board of directors, advisory board, and project volunteers. LEAP is a U.S. based organization that is run by U.S. volunteers in partnership with Beit Atfal Assumoud, a Palestinian-Lebanese NGO. We are funded through seed grants and grassroots fundraising efforts in the U.S. Additionally, volunteer project fees pay for the operational costs of the program.

How much cash allowance should I budget for Project SHINE?  What are examples of telephone, food, and transportation prices?

LEAP does not recommend a specific amount for volunteers because it ultimately depends on each individual’s spending habits. For example, some volunteers can spend up to $10 a day, while others spend $20-$30 a day. Also, some choose to travel before/after the program, thus staying at hotels/hostels, while others do not. Some choose to go to private beach resorts on their days off, which require entrance fees, while others do not. Therefore, it is very difficult to assess a specific amount since it ultimately depends on what you choose to do in your free time and your spending habits.

If you have an international phone, you can use it in Lebanon after buying a SIM card for around $10. Depending on your talking and texting habits, you can pay anywhere from $10-50 for phone credit per week, however, most people text and spend approximately $20 a week.  Food prices also vary. Some volunteers choose to eat manakeesh (flat bread with cheese, or thyme and olive oil), falafel or shawerma sandwiches, etc for around $2-5, a satisfying dinner option. Others frequent cafes with wifi and spend significantly more ($12-25) a night. This very much depends on your spending habits. However, it is certainly possible to spend approximately $15 a day or less on food and expenses.

Please keep in mind a taxi is approximately $4 round-trip from most places. Volunteers choosing to stay closer to living quarters will obviously spend less money on transportation. As is the case in the U.S., you can live on a cheap budget or choose to pay more. There will always be a thrifty option. Thus, the recommended per day allowance should be calculated at no less than $15 a day.

All work related transportation costs will be covered by the program such as transport to the teaching location, Friday student field trips, and Saturday transportation to excursions.

How do volunteers spend their after work hours and weekends?

 All volunteers teach 4 days a week with a Friday student field trip. Thus, all volunteers are expected to complete lesson plans and prepare for each day’s class which is often done in the evenings, whether in the apartment or cafes. During after work hours, in addition to class preparations, many volunteers spend time together getting to know one another and their respective city. Volunteers spend time at cafes, the corniche/beach front, or having dinner at the homes of co-workers and students. The latter option is especially common during the month of Ramadan.

On Saturdays, SHINE volunteers often have the chance to participate in a program planned trip to a tourist site or an educational workshop. Sundays are a day off for all volunteers. Sundays are often spent planning lessons for the following week, catching up with family and friends on via the internet at a cafe, going to the beach, among other activities. During all nights of the week, all volunteers and coordinators abide by a reasonable, but strict curfew.

Since I am responsible for all individual costs, are there organizations that I can reach out to for funding assistance?

Please find a helpful list of grants and other fundraising tools below:

  • Indiegogo allows you to easily create a campaign and fundraise for various causes, even gaining global exposure for your cause. Users maintain 100% control of their fundraising page and can even offer personalized perks to incentivize donations.
  • GoFundMe is an online fundraising platform specifically for personal fundraising.  This site is very user-friendly and easy to link to social media networks for optimum promotion of your cause. GoFundMe deducts 5% of each donation as its user fee.
  • VolunteerForever is another crowdfunding source which is specifically geared towards fundraising efforts for volunteer positions. The site offer personal assistance to help ensure the success of your campaign. Several past SHINE volunteers have raised personal funds for their trip to Lebanon through this website.

Grants or scholarships:

  • True Hero awards money for community service projects for qualified college students as well as non-profit organizations.
  • The Awesome Foundation awards one $1,000 grant per month to various causes and projects.
  • Foundation for Sustainable Development: This website is a great resource for various grants, scholarships, and fellowships available for students.
  • Davidson Institute for Talent Development: A list of resources for young people interested in making a difference, which suggests a variety of scholarships and grants.
  • Funds Net Services: This website is a great place to look for international grants and funders.
  • Check with your university for additional grant and scholarship possibilities.

 

LEAP Program

LEAP is a grassroots volunteer program established to provide educational empowerment projects to support the intellectual growth and creative curiosity of refugee-youth in Lebanon so they may become agents of change. As an apolitical humanitarian US-based organization, LEAP aims to raise awareness about the plight of Palestinian refugees in general, but particularly in Lebanon, to American volunteers.

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