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University of Balamand > Academics > Faculties > Faculty Of Health Sciences > Quick Links > Simone Masri

Simone Masri: AIESEC Balamand Public Health Volunteer in Rome

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience as a volunteer in Rome?
I signed up with AIESEC Balamand to work as a volunteer on projects related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and I got accepted to work for 6 weeks (28 May till 7 July, 2017) in a project with AIESEC Roma Tre, with the Fondazione Mondo Digitale in Rome, Italy. My role was to teach English and the importance of technology for children, 6 to 12 years old, in a Summer Camp. In my teaching experience, I organized, planned, and implemented different interactive teaching methods. Although it was an amazing experience, I encountered some challenges mainly related to language barrier. Not many people were capable of speaking English especially the kids. Also the Fondazione Mondo Digitale organization has several technological opportunities to be used in teaching and it was challenging for me to learn them and use them in my teaching. At the end of my experience, and with the support of everyone in this organization, I was able to overcome these challenges. I actually learnt some Italian and new teaching techniques. I realized that I was not just going to Rome to help the children, but the children actually helped me and taught me a lot.

2. What are the skills and competencies that you were able to develop from this experience?
​This experience has really changed me. I had acquired personal skills that I never thought I would have. I was able to develop better communication skills. The language barrier challenge was a motivation for me to work on improving my communication skills. Additionally, by teaching a class of 20 students between ages 6 and 12 on my own, I improved my leadership skills. Also I learned how to be independent. It is certainly not easy to be alone in a whole new country with no one you know. I really learned how to take care of myself. Last but not least, the most important thing I learned was that travelling and meeting people from other cultures is the best mean for education. Being able to really get to know and live in a whole new community with different culture is something extremely valuable and useful.

3. How was the Public Health Programs at UOB of added value to your journey?
First of all, Public Health is all about making a difference and helping people, and it is what really paved the way and motivated me for my abroad experience. Public Health Programs at UOB are special because we take variety of courses with several topics related to pubic health. We learn about nutrition, business, sociology, biology among others. Public health certainly gives you broader perspectives on several topics and subjects that allow you to implement them to your everyday life whether it is on personal or professional levels. To me personally I think of Public Health as a lifestyle more than just a major. In all the public health courses we are also taught about how to interact with people and how to effectively reach them regardless of their age, education level, or background. Everyone has a specific way of grasping ideas and techniques and you have to be able to figure it out and use it to your advantage. This really helped me with the kids because every student was different and learned how to do things in a different way. Also, everyone in the Public Health Programs have really encouraged and supported me all throughout my experience, and I am very thankful for that.

4. Will you consider volunteering as well in Lebanon?
Yes of course. Volunteering is something astonishing. It is addicting and rewarding both on a personal and community level. Volunteering is not something easy. It takes a lot of physical, emotional, and mental efforts. But the fact that you know that you made a difference in someone’s life is honestly worth more than I could ever describe. Lebanon is a developing country that needs a lot of help in many ways. The more we as Lebanese citizens are capable of giving of our time to help someone or the environment, the better our country and community will be.

5. At a personal level, what do you like to share with your peers about this experience?
Living in Italy for those 6 weeks really changed me as a person. An experience like this really makes you look at life in a really different and more open way. At first, I had no expectations going into this program. Some people would say that Italy is not that different than most developed countries, but I learned that every country has a unique attributes and qualities that could never be compared to any other country. I was not going as a tourist. I was really going with the aim to make a difference or put a small smile on the children’s faces. I realized that I did not just benefit others but I benefited myself. I was capable of learning new things. I learned many things on personally and professionally levels. The challenges that I faced in my experience had made my experience better as a whole. If anyone is debating on whether or not he or she should be involved in such an experience I would unquestionably say yes go for it! This world is going through a lot of awful stages and if any of us is capable of making the slightest difference we could really change things for the better. It always starts with one person. Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who was there for me and made this opportunity possible. Thank you to AIESEC Balamand, AIESEC Roma Tre, Fondazione Mondo Digitale, Valentina Gelsomini, everyone in the Public Health Programs, and my family and friends.

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