Conversations Unbound (CU) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that empowers forcibly displaced individuals as paid online Arabic, Spanish, or French tutors for students around the world. We aim to create opportunities for displaced people to increase their agency and economic opportunities, while striving to provide a robust educational experience for students to improve their foreign language skills, engage in rich, cross-cultural dialogue, and think critically about forced displacement.
With increasing numbers of forcibly displaced people, daunting projections of future displacements, and heightened levels of societal resentment towards these displaced communities, Conversations Unbound was founded in 2015 to provide livelihood support for forcibly displaced people, while also meaningfully engaging college students in this global issue.
We are inspired by the resilience, entrepreneurial spirit, and breadth of knowledge and expertise of the CU tutor community—through our programs, we provide a platform for them to be seen, valued, and inspire others.
Accordingly, through our work, we strive to reimagine humanitarian aid by centering individuals traditionally on the receiving-end of aid programming as the language tutor, the producer and provider of knowledge. By privileging the knowledge and expertise of our tutors, CU’s programs aim to equalize these traditional power dynamics whereby tutors and students can learn from each other by engaging in meaningful dialogue. Consequently, CU believes that empowering displaced communities means enabling these people to be able to increase both their agency and economic stability.
CU’s tutor team—the core inspiration for the organization—is composed of talented, resilient, and entrepreneurial individuals originally from Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Mexico, Venezuela, the United States, Burkina Faso, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Though all CU tutors have a background of forced displacement, no displacement experience is the same. Some have fled violent conflict or persecution; others lacked job opportunities in their home country and were forced to migrate to support themselves and their families; still others are first generation citizens negotiating their displacement history within the context of their xenophobic, anti-immigrant nation-states. CU recognizes that forced displacement is both an immediate, raw experience and one that can impact families for generations.
CU welcomes all those who identify as having a background of forced displacement to our tutor team.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
• Alaa Khabbaz, CU Arabic Tutor
• Alisa Swire, Esq.
• Chris McLaren, former Program Director at Small Projects Istanbul
• Kelly Ann Collins, CEO at Collins & Company
• Othman Karkokli, Community Liaison Officer at Small Projects Istanbul
• Eva Woods Peiró, Professor of Hispanic Studies at Vassar College
FRIENDS OF CU
• Jim Leu, italki Regional Director of Business Operations - East Asia and South East Asia
• Marguerite Nowak, Senior Cluster Coordinator - Syria, UNHCR
• Daniel Davies, Capacity Development Program Associate, Natural Resource Governance Institute
• Frederick Deknatel, Managing Editor, World Politics Review
• Simon Craven, Associate at Levitt & Needleman, P.C.
• Aziza Ismail, Founder, LiteraSeed, LLC
• Brian & Sarah Tormey, President, TitleVest
IN THE NEWS
April 20, 2017
February 1, 2017