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Project Discovery
Participants in the Beacon College-led “Project Discovery” in the city of Sharjah, UAE.

On the heels of leading a successful educator’s workshop in Mumbai on learning disabilities, a six-strong Beacon College team jetted to the United Arab Emirates to run a two-week residential program for college-bound youth with learning differences.

“Project Discovery” targeted individuals ages 15 to 22 with learning differences.

The city of Sharjah in the UAE defrayed the program based at Centro Sharjah hotel near Sharjah International Airport. Project Discovery acquainted youth with university basics, detailed learning strategies, and raised parental awareness about learning differences.

“We found receptive and passionate skilled collaborators in a pre-college program that parallels work we’re done on our own campus,” said Beacon President George Hagerty, part of the six-person Beacon team. “We found amongst the students a desire to achieve their full potential while recognizing the challenges that are part of learning differences.”

Beacon College — a nonprofit liberal arts school in Leesburg, Fla., and America’s first college or university accredited to award bachelor’s degrees primarily to students with learning differences — conducted the program in cooperation with the Sharjah Center for Learning Difficulties. The nonprofit center, under the leadership of Sheikha Jameela Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, advocates for inclusion and empowerment for people with disabilities.

The seeds for Project Discovery were sown in August. Beacon educators conducted two multi-day workshops for teachers educating students with learning differences from kindergarten through college. Project Discovery was a natural extension of those educator sessions. The Sharjah program mirrors Beacon’s three-year-old, three-week summer immersion program, “Summer for Success.”

Project Discovery Course
Beacon College’s Jacob Pinkston teaches
a Project Discovery course.

Fourteen students signed up for Project Discovery. The program ran from March 25-April 5 and mixed rigorous college-level courses with jaunts to Sharjah Desert Park, sports parks, and science centers.

Herold anticipates reprising Project Discovery next year with 20 students.

Not that the college’s global outreach regarding learning disabilities stops at the UAE borders.

“There are all these leaders in various countries asking for more education, asking for our expertise,” said Project Discovery program director Dale Herold. Herold is vice president of admissions and enrollment management at Beacon, ranked the No. 1 school for students with learning differences by BestValueSchools.com. “It’s part of our continuous outreach and building awareness and making opportunities available for these students, whether in their own home(land) or here.”