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Refugee Scholar

A third-generation refugee defies the odds

Project Credits and Info


Ed Kashi, Julie Winokur

Refugee Scholar

A third-generation refugee defies the odds


From 2011 to 2021, the total number of people worldwide forced to flee their homes due to conflict, violence, fear of persecution, and human rights violations more than doubled, and was the most since World War II.

Over 40% of these refugees are under the age of 18. As their numbers continue to grow, their lack of access to higher education constricts opportunity for upward mobility and threatens to create a lost generation of young people, with dire consequences for them and societies across the globe.

Hourie Tafech, a Palestinian refugee, has defied the odds to access higher education. Follow her journey as a third generation refugee living in Lebanon all the way to a PhD in the United States. For 95% of refugee youth, this trajectory is unattainable, keeping millions from upward mobility and depriving the world of a huge talent pool.

Being a refugee, you’re constantly reminded of what you cannot do, and how your status can limit you from achieving your goals or living the life you want.

For me, growing up as a Palestinian refugee in a crowded camp in Lebanon was a constant reminder of the limitations of my status. Education was always presented as the only way to break free from the vicious cycle of poverty and exclusion that many refugees face. But the tools and resources to achieve that education were scarce, and only a few lucky ones like me managed to secure scholarships to attend university.

Leaving the camp and seeing the world outside made me realize how privileged I was to have had that opportunity. I can attest that it changed my life for the better and it’s a privilege.

– Hourie Tafech