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August 29, 2018

The End of Karam| Sara Naja | MArch ’19

by snaja

My time in Lebanon flew by and it was time to return to Turkey. I had been keeping contact with the team in Istanbul prepping for the upcoming launch of Karam House. We were keeping up with the modifications and dealing with issues as they came up. It had been a while since I last worked in a construction site so it was an exciting refresher. I was intrigued by how construction sites function in Turkey and to my surprise they quite similar to those in Lebanon. Considering most of the craftsmen were Syrian, communication was easy among us as well as among the different teams. Moreover, all design decisions were made and there are some details to be finalized. The heavy duty modifications are complete and most furniture has been bought. We worked on setting up the spaces and organizing the furniture according to each room. Equipment and tools for the work spaces were also ordered and are awaiting arrival. Most of the custom furniture contracted was complete with some still being worked on. All members of the team worked together efficiently to be able to finish the building as soon as possible.

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In parallel to the modifications, the team of mentors began their training with the foundation. Classes will begin in about a month and so they were being prepped on the academic system Karam House follows. Some mentors from Reyhanli traveled to Istanbul to introduce the new mentors to the program. They gave them presentations on previous studios with examples of successes and failures they encountered. Moreover, they had casual conversations on the challenges of working with refugee kids as well as the immense level of creativity these kids were suppressing. The new mentors all had bachelor degrees in various fields especially architecture with half of them having masters degrees. Finding jobs in their respective field in Turkey was a challenge due to the language barrier though most of them are working on developing their Turkish language. They are all eager to start the year with Karam House Istanbul and began brainstorming studio ideas as part of their training. In addition to the program, they were also presented with the development of Karam Foundation and the nature of work Karam does internationally. It is essential that the team of Karam value the ideologies of the foundation and reflect it appropriately. It was interesting for me to observe the training of the mentors and their approach to the studio culture. They are interesting and inspiring people and I definitely learned a lot from their experiences.

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Ending my internship, I was grateful for the opportunity to work with Karam Foundation this summer. It truly was a unique and eye opening experience. I immensely appreciate the work Karam does for Syrian refugees internationally. Though the war is nearing an end in Syria, the refugee crisis will take years to be resolved. As an architect and designer, countless methods exist in which I can help and I hope to be able to make a difference one step at a time.  3.jpeg

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