Connected to the Past, Committed to the Future

Our family recently celebrated my grandmother’s 85th birthday. Family members from all over the country reunited in the small rural community where I grew up and my grandmother spent her entire life. I’m not sure if it is my age or the fact that I now have kids, but I spent a large part of the time reflecting on the rich heritage that I come from. I was reminded of the incredible work ethic, humility, faithfulness, and genuine goodness that is mysteriously embedded in my grandparents, parents, and uncles and aunts. It can be intimidating and even scary to think about living up to that...MORE

The Situation in Syria

This is not easy to write about: 80,000 people have died. Thousands more are unaccounted for. More than 4,000,000 are in urgent need according to the UN. That’s ten times the population of the city of Minneapolis. That’s more people than the entire state of Connecticut and more than Brooklyn and Queens combined who are desperately in need of shelter, food, or medicine just to survive. 
For the past year, Questscope and its partner, the Syrian Society for Social Development (SSSD), have been providing life-saving assistance to Syrians displaced or otherwise affected by the...MORE

Zaatari's Wasted Youth

Last week at Zaatari refugee camp, as we sipped tea that was just a few degrees hotter than the air temperature, I asked a 22-year-old refugee named Hamdi why he was so quiet that day. Hamdi’s close friend Yazan, who has been the only pillar of stability in Hamdi’s life since he arrived in the camp, tried to ward us off the subject. “Mike, it’s complicated,” he said. “Forget about it.”
But Hamdi interrupted him. “My friend became a martyr yesterday,” he said, “in Dara’a.”
Each man present responded with the traditional and compulsory Arabic “Allah yerhamo,”...MORE

Overflowing classrooms continue to battle illiteracy in Jordan

(WNN/OD) Amman, JORDAN, WESTERN ASIA: Having no significant natural resources like our neighbors in the Gulf, and no coastline like Mediterranean countries, Jordan has always seemed intentionally delineated to be void of natural wealth. At times, this has been more of a blessing than a curse. Either way, in 2002 King Abdullah II realized that unless a petroleum reserve was to be discovered under Petra, his country needed an economic plan. He shortly announced his intention to transition Jordan’s work force into a “knowledge economy”, to keep up with the changing...MORE

The role of apprenticeship programs in the MENA region

The past 10 years in Jordan thousands of disadvantaged youth have been assisted to obtain basic education credentials to access accredited vocational training and improved employment opportunities.  The success of programs providing such assistance reaffirms that learning is central to human identity, and is essentially about social participation. Every youth is highly motivated in a social environment that respects their identity as learners and where they contribute to the learning process.

Apprenticeship/vocational skills programs are a critical means of tapping into this...MORE

A dimming light for Middle Eastern youth

In the side streets in cities and towns you find them – street lamps casting pools of light in the night on young men, sitting, standing, smoking. Perhaps there are more smartphones alongside the cigarette packs, but otherwise the scene has changed little in the 32 years I have been in the Middle East.

Some have been able to get off the street corner and can be found sitting in the Internet cafés staring at the bluish light of their monitor screens chatting through Facebook and Google.

Whether it’s light coming from outside on the street corner or in the cafes, two things...MORE

Celebrating 25 Years: The People Make it Possible

On a Saturday evening in May, about 150 friends of Questscope gathered to commemorate 25 years of putting the last, first. In a room overlooking the Minneapolis skyline in the Walker Arts Museum, attendees had many reasons to toast. Beautiful weather had finally emerged from an unseasonably cold spring, food and music was plentiful and Questscope had persisted through a quarter century. 

It was a celebration of the organization, and also a much-deserved acknowledgement of the people behind it. As Dr. Rhodes said during a Q&A at the event: “The glue that binds Questscope...MORE