Ten recipients of the Gratitude Scholarship program from Syria, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon will begin their studies at United World College (UWC) schools around the world in September. These students have been chosen based on their high academic performance. Each is either a refugee or displaced, living in extreme poverty, or living with the loss of a parent or a guardian. Seven of the students will attend UWC Dilijan in Armenia, an international co-educational boarding school which hosts students from more than 60 countries.
The Gratitude Scholarship program, valued over $7 million, is a joint undertaking of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and the Near East Foundation. Over the duration of the program, 100 promising students from countries affected by conflict, displacement and poverty in the Middle East will benefit from the opportunity to study at one of the United World College international schools and colleges. The program was established to thank the people of the Middle East who offered shelter and food to those displaced by the Armenian Genocide a century ago.
The Co-Founders of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative have also announced the continuation of the Amal Clooney Scholarship. Now in its second year, the scholarship offers one female student from Lebanon free enrollment in a two-year international baccalaureate program at UWC Dilijan. The student is selected based on her exemplary academic performance and interest in the promotion of human rights and international issues. The scholarship was established to strengthen cross-cultural education and understanding, in honor of the scholarship’s namesake, esteemed international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.
“We are proud to offer education and international experience to deserving students from the Middle East, home to so many Armenians during the last century,” said Ruben Vardanyan, Co-Founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative. “By bringing together young people from across the world, we seek to promote international dialogue and understanding at an early age, when relationships are formed and values are instilled. Our hope is that this reinforces a sense of compassion, understanding and the willingness to help each other, even in the face of adversity.”
This year’s Amal Clooney Scholar was selected from more than 43 short-listed applicants for her stellar academic performance, positive energy and passionate sense of social responsibility, which she plans to put to good use by studying law at university.
“We are proud to be able to help empower our next generation of female leaders and humanitarians through this program,” Vardanyan added. “And we’re excited by the possibilities this scholarship holds for the young women of Lebanon and the region.”
The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative aims to advance collaborative social and philanthropic projects on behalf of the global Armenian community. Its flagship project is the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, a $1 million global humanitarian prize which honors those who put themselves at risk to enable others to survive. George Clooney, Co-Chair of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee, presented the inaugural Aurora Prize to Ms. Marguerite Barankitse during a ceremony in Armenia on April 24, 2016.
Nominations for next year’s Aurora Prize are open until September 9, 2016. Members of the public are encouraged to nominate inspiring humanitarians who are saving lives and advancing humanitarian causes in all parts of the world. To nominate an eligible candidate, please visit https://auroraprize.com/en/prize/detail/nominatenow.