Students of the English Access Microscholarship Program take a selfie at the US Embassy in Awkar, Thursday, May 8, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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AWKAR, Lebanon: Rami Kamal Dib and Jinane Hassan had a simple goal: to hone their English language skills.Sponsored by the U.S. State Department, Access aims to help young people from economically disadvantaged areas in Lebanon learn English and leadership skills, but it has also helped to break down barriers between communities, regions and sects by connecting young people from across the country. Ghalia Kondacji, a native of south Lebanon who has taught English to promising Lebanese public school students for the past decade, said that encouraging diversity was a key aspect of the Access program.While the 3,800 Lebanese students who have participated in Access may represent a new, hopeful generation, educators and community leaders said it was initially difficult to convince parents to allow their children to participate.
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