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I asked this kid what she wanted to be when she grew up. She said, 'Nothing.'

While education isn't an all-encompassing solution for refugee kids, it can make a big difference.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

When you ask a lot of kids this question, they usually have quick answers. They want to be doctors, artists, firefighter ... you name it, they'll dream it up. Kids have pretty awesome (and hilarious) ambitions.

Most kids, that is.


When I asked Zeinab, a 9-year-old girl living at the Mosaab al-Telyani refugee camp in Lebanon, this question, her answer had a completely different tone.

"I don't want to be anything. I won't become anything," Zeinab said

Zeinab, 9 years old on her first day at the program. All photos taken by the author, used with permission.

Zeinab is one of those kids you'd expect to be at the top of her class.

Unlike the other kids in her school, she is very quiet and often sits by herself. She's exceptionally thoughtful and beyond her years in education. I imagine she'd be the one raising her hand all the time at an American elementary school, the one acing vocabulary and math tests.

But at the Mosaab al-Telyani camp school, Zeinab rarely attends class. She has even said that she plans to drop out of school completely when she turns 13.

Zeinab has been assured for years that she would not become anything in life.

She had no hope for a life different from the one she was living, and her weak, almost nonexistent, education hadn't encouraged ambition. She had migrated from Syria to Lebanon over two years ago and lost both her parents and all her family members to the war. She lives at an orphanage in the Mosaab al-Telyani camp, which is right across the border from Syria in Beqaa Valley, Lebanon. It's home to hundreds of Syrian refugees. Zeinab is expected to marry in her teenage years in order to survive.

Zeinab writes her name in English.

Many Syrian refugee children like Zeinab miss years of school and receive little to no education after they leave their home countries. The UNHCR found last year that 66% of the 80 refugee children they interviewed in Lebanon did not attend school. And a World Bank report revealed that failure and dropout rates among Syrian children are now almost twice the national average for Lebanese children.

While education is certainly not an all-encompassing solution for refugee kids like Zeinab, it can make a big difference.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre reports that 9,500 people a day — approximately one family every 60 seconds — are being displaced in Syria. The average global displacement for all refugees is 17 years, and it's likely that for Syrians, the time period will be longer. So while the proportion of the refugee crisis is unprecedented — a generation without education is a lost generation — the impact of quality education could be huge.

A recent Human Rights Watch study concluded that ensuring Syrian refugees have education will reduce the risks of early marriage and military recruitment and will increase their earning potential. Most importantly, education will shape Syrian youth to tackle the challenges they will face rebuilding their country or adjusting to unpredictable futures.

For three months, Zeinab was part of an education project that hoped to improve basic language and math skills for children with significant gaps in their education.

The program was aimed at helping these kids eventually enter the Lebanese public school system, but it was also about instilling hope and reinvigorating ambition in a generation that seems to have given up. The classrooms became safe spaces not only for education but also for building self-esteem and inspiring dreams for the future.

When the program ended, I asked Zeinab the same question again: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

This time she had an answer ready: "I want to be a teacher."

Zeinab, on her last day of the program.

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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Joy

Tea time: how this boutique blends cultures from around the world

Ethically sourced, modern clothes for kids that embrace adventure, inspire connections and global thinking.

The Tea Collection combines philanthropic efforts with a deep rooted sense of multiculturalism into each of their designs so that kids can grow up with global sensibilities. They make clothes built to last with practicality and adventure in mind. But why "Tea"?

Let's spill it. Tea is a drink shared around the world with people from all different cultures. It is a common thread that weaves the world together. The Tea Collection was born from a love of travel and a love of sharing tea with different people in different places. Inspired by patterns from around the world, these clothes help children develop a familiarity with global communities.

Tea sources their materials ethically and ensures that each of their partners abide to strict codes of conduct. They have a zero-tolerance policy for anything "even slightly questionable" and make sure that they regularly visit their manufacturing partners to ensure that they're supporting positive working conditions.

Since 2003, The Tea Collection has partnered with the Global Fund for Children and has invested in different grassroots organizations that create community empowered programs to uplift kids in need. They donate 10% of their proceeds and have already contributed over $500,000 to different organizations such as: The Homeless Prenatal Program (San Francisco, CA, USA), Door of Faith Orphanage (Baja California, Mexico), Little Sisters Fund (Nepal) and others in Peru, Sri Lanka, India, Italy and Haiti.

But the best part about the Tea Collection? They're also an official member of the Kidizen Rewear Collective, which believes that clothes should stretch far beyond one child's use. They have their own external site for their preloved clothes that makes rewearing affordable. Families can trade in gently used Tea clothes and receive discounts for future products. Shopping the site helps keep clothes out of land fills and reduces the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

By creating heirloom style clothing made to last families can buy, sell, and trade clothes that can be reworn again and again. Because "new to you" doesn't always have to mean never been worn. And let's be honest, we all know how fast kids grow! Shopping preloved clothes is a great way to keep styles fresh without harming the environment or feeling guilty about not getting the most out of certain styles.

But don't just take our word for it! Head over to the Tea Collection and see for yourself!

Upworthy has earned revenue through a partnership and/or may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

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