Ayat Abu Albandora

Student, Jordan

Since Ayat was young, she was always excited to get home from school to help her mum in the kitchen. For as long as she can remember, she has loved to cook. Now 25, she has started exploring twists on her mother’s recipes.

A few years ago, when Ayat was considering her higher education options, she decided to follow her passion for cooking and culinary art. She found that Al Khawarizmi college in Amman offered a vocational course in Hotel Management, which included the aspects of catering she was most interested in.

However, higher education in Jordan is expensive and after registering for the course, Ayat realised she would not be able to realistically afford to continue her education. Someone advised that she apply for a SPARK scholarship, but she had thought the scholarships were only available to Syrian students. In fact, the scholarships are available to approximately 70% Syrian youth and 30% are for youth from the hosting countries.

Scholarships not only for Syrians
This is because 84% of the world’s refugees reside in developing countries, according to the World Bank. Therefore, often youth from hosting nations face similarly challenging financial circumstances, on top of the added pressure on their economies to support refugee populations.

Ayat applied, got accepted, and was once again on the path to education. “My studies have taught me how to start with the basics to create what I want from those ingredients, and how to best serve food.”

Looking to the future
When Ayat finishes her studies next year, she is eager to work in order to save money for her own project. She has plans to open her own food truck, serving simple street food and other snacks, which has not really been done yet in Jordan. “I want to be independent from my family. I want to have my own income to sustain myself. I want to do it for myself, for my future.”

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