BEIRUT: The first major choice a teenager has to make relates to the career they want to pursue. This process could be the most difficult and confusing decision they ever have to make.
In order to guide teens, Youmna Baladi, with the support of Notre Dame de Jamhour, launched “Tomorrow Teen Forum,” an academic summer camp that aims to inform students of what career options they have for the future, while teaching them the skills of various fields.
“We needed this; I have teens of my own that struggled in choosing their majors and their future careers,” Baladi explained to Annahar. “I wanted to organize something that will make it easier for them to get familiar with their choices from a young age.”
The academic summer program combines interactive learning with professional academics and field specialists over the course of two weeks.
Although it was only the forum's first edition, Baladi had over 60 participating students between the ages of 12 and 16. The program tackled six major subjects: medicine and health, business entrepreneurship, engineering, architecture, art, and communication skills/public speaking.
The summer camp ran from July 15 to July 26 at the St. Gregory College, Ashrafieh. It brought together students from all over the world including Dubai, New York, Canada, Qatar, and Riyadh.
Baladi broke down to Annahar how an educational day is spent.
“From 9 a.m. till 10:30 we provided an educational session, then the students would get a break where they’d have activities like ping pong, basketball, trivia and mind games, we also had animators that came to entertain the students. Then the students would have another educational session after the break for an hour and a half before they went home.”
She explained to Annahar how every department had a head professional who gathered a team of specialists to explain each and every topic tackled in the program.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the support of the team, in the end, they were with the students every day," Baladi said.
In addition to familiarizing teens with diverse specialties, Baladi provided each group of students with two field trips. For example, the Art department was taken to the Sursock Museum and the Acid Factory where they had to unleash their inner artists and analyze key elements in major artworks.
"The architecture students had to build models of urban architecture rooftops. They always brought home some sort of handmade project. In public speaking, we had the students film each other during interviews, and they had to assess their own videos with constructive criticism. They were learning, but they were having fun," Baladi told Annahar.
The program was concluded with a closing ceremony that brought together participants and parents.
"It was an emotional experience for the parents, students, and teachers," Baladi said.
“This camp aims to make students explore different fields at an early stage, so when they reach their high school senior year, they would be more aware and informed of what they want to be when they grow up,” Baladi added.
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