Sunday, May 26, 2024

Kid of the Year

Thirteen-year-old Lujain Alqattawi has been named Time magazine’s Kid of the Year.

As reported by Time, Lujain was born in the USA to a father who grew up in Talbieh, one of the 10 Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, and she is growing up speaking both Arabic and English. Her father came to the USA to study, where he met his wife, Ahlam.

When Covid arrived and schools resorted to remote learning, Lujain came up with a unique way to stave off boredom for herself and make a difference to others. She used her dual-language skills and connection to the Palestinian refugee camps to set up Sparkle, a project whose aim is to teach 9 and 10-year-old Arabic-speaking Palestinian girls English.

Ahlem is an English teacher and she helped Lujain design the lessons, but their content and the syllabus were all Lujain’s. Her parents were also instrumental in making the connection with a principal of a Jordanian school, but Lujain did all the rest, planning her lessons and beaming them through Zoom on Saturdays for 30 minutes to the 30-plus girls 6,000 miles away. 

Lujain chose to teach just Palestinian girls because they are 50% more likely to drop out of school  than boys and are often overlooked. 

The combination of her fun, chatty lessons and closeness in age to her students has had a remarkable success in her students’ achievement, as she’s able to connect with them on a relatable level.

She’s now planning Sparkle’s expansion, both to create a website of resources for others, to teach a new class and to take her original students to the next level. 

As Lujain told Time, I feel that we’re producing the next generation of girl doctors [and] engineers and these jobs that people usually don’t picture a woman as.”

Image courtesy of Shutterstock
Liz Granirer
Liz Granirer
Liz has been a journalist for many years. She is currently editor of EL Gazette and has previously edited the magazines Young Performer, StepForward and Accounting Technician; been deputy editor on Right Start magazine; chief sub editor on Country Homes & Interiors; and sub editor on easyJet Traveller, Lonely Planet and Family Traveller magazines, along with a number of others.
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