Syria Andacht

Friday, 12. February 2016

Text and photos by Sylvan Levin

I think that on some level, every educator followed the path they did with the shared hope of inspiring their students. If we are really lucky, our students inspire us.

About five years ago, Jordan Hattar came into my classroom at the end of the school day. I hadn't seen him in a few years since he had left the school where I was teaching in California at the end of 9th grade. He had come to tell me that he had just returned from a trip to the south of Sudan, which had not yet broken off to become the country of Southern Sudan. He had met one of the "Lost Boy" refugees and been invited to come with him on a relief trip to his home country. Jordan had raised money for the trip and for the mosquito nets and sandals they distributed. "I wanted you to know," he explained, "because your class is the first place I ever heard the word 'Sudan.'"

I was deeply moved by Jordan's actions, especially as his humanitarian work grew. While at university, Jordan befriended his Arabic professor who broke down crying one day because of what her family was facing in Syria. He was inspired to go to neighboring Jordan where his work with Syrian refugees began. He managed to gain journalist credentials so he could visit the Zaatari Refugee Camp where he began to connect with many refugees. Finding the great need for housing that could withstand the wind and flooding better than tents, Jordan raised money to buy and deliver "caravan" structures to house families in the camp. He met with government and UN officials in order to work around the bureaucratic obstacles, simply refusing to allow anything to get in his way.

A little less than a year ago and having recently graduated from university, Jordan came to my former school and presented to our entire 9th grade class about his work with refugees. It was his birthday and he was turning the ripe age of 22. By then, he knew I was moving to Switzerland and he was on the verge of also moving across the pond to do graduate work in International Relations at Cambridge. As a friendship had formed between us, he vowed to come visit the Ecole.

Jordan made the trip to the Hasliberg two weekends ago to present an Andacht for our community. He shared the story of his work, including the many frustrations he faced along the way. His message of never giving up to fulfill one's dreams stirred students and Mitarbeiters alike and fostered many conversations in the days since. During his presentation, he Skyped with Saria, a 19-year-old Syrian refugee currently living in a boarding school in Jordan. Both Saria and Jordan passed on the same message-- follow your heart and never doubt your ability to make a difference. You can read more about Jordan at