Paper Airplanes: Skype Learning for Syrians

Paper Airplanes Team

Cheryl Hagan Paper Airplanes

“My name is Cheryl and I began tutoring with Paper Airplanes in the Spring of 2016. I had just returned from studying abroad in Istanbul, Turkey where I witnessed firsthand the lack of resources and infrastructure that Syrian refugees face. As a former refugee from Sierra Leone, who immigrated to Boston when I was six years old, I know the struggles of trying to learn English, which was my third language. I actually remember not speaking at all in first grade and remembering that struggle made me want to help a fellow refugee through their language journey.

Paper airplanes strives to unlock opportunities with live online language and skills instruction for conflict-affected teens and adults in the Middle East. We are a start-up nonprofit using technology to provide free, virtual, one-on-one language and skills instruction to people affected by conflict. We provide the tools people need to pursue education, secure employment, and ultimately, rebuild their lives. We teach English, Turkish, computer coding for women, and journalism to youth and adults inside of Syria and displaced across the Middle East and North Africa.

Paper Airplanes is working to address needs for skills acquisition, accessible training, and individualized instruction. We use Skype to match volunteer tutors and trainers with these conflict-affected students in the Middle East. Our programs rely on hundreds of volunteers who provide one-on-one personalized instruction. Learners enrolled in our classes receive individual support as they search for scholarships, apply to universities, write CVs, or enter the job market.

After two years of operating as a program on college campuses, Paper Airplanes grew from just 10 pairs of students and tutors to 325 per semester. We’ve served over 1,200 beneficiaries to date, and our work has been featured nationally and internationally.

We have an incredibly dedicated team of people willing to volunteer their time. We are harnessing the widespread volunteering power and interest from American college students who are passionate about tutoring and doing their part to help mitigate the repercussions of the global refugee crisis.”

Discover more about Cheryl’s journey with Paper Airplanes and their work to refugees, here:

Success Story: Become a Friendship Sponsor by Host Nation

Host Nation

Host Nation

“My name is Anneke and earlier this year I founded HostNation because I believe in the power of friendship to transform lives. Befriending is not a new idea but it’s a simple one, and I want to deliver it in a new way. I want to use technology and the sort of software used by online dating sites to help deliver it to those, who I believe, need it the most – asylum seekers, refugees, undocumented migrants in our cities. People not defined so much by their immigration status, but by social isolation and loneliness they experience. People who feel marginalised and unwelcome and live on the fringes of our cities. Few ever meet British people informally – someone who treats them as an equal and a friend – few have ever been invited into a British home. Yet when they are it’s transformative.

I’ve witnessed this at first hand. I’ve been volunteering in the refugee sector for many years – as a befriender to unaccompanied minors I was matched with Abu 6 years ago and he’s still part of my family and calls me his UK Mum. I also run a holiday scheme for Freedom from Torture where 100 clients from across the UK are referred to our wonderful hosts families and benefit hugely from their hospitality and on-going friendship.

It seems to me that opportunities to meet socially are too few. Its really hard if you’re a migrant, new to this country to make an English friend. And its pretty hard too if you’re a citizen with goodwill towards migrants. Through City of Sanctuary and Citizens UK I’ve met so many wonderful people who want to help and connect but don’t know how. I want this to be easier because being a friend or a companion isn’t that hard. We’re social creatures and hardwired to listen, talk, share stories, laugh, drink tea and be hospitable.

HostNation is an online introductory web referral and registration process that can match-make 100s of people needing friendship with those offering it and introduce them to one another face to face in their local communities. We’ve had the idea and we’ve hit the ground running. With volunteers working pro bono we’ve launched the website, we’re registering and screening befrienders online and we’re building a robust volunteer database. We have over 125 befrienders in Greater London alone.

We believe this is too important to get wrong and are raising funds to pilot the scheme in London this year. With your help we could start connecting lonely refugees to friendly, welcoming residents within a month and start making a real difference to lives in our capital.”

Learn more about this great campaign here: