Imagine a country with more highly educated doctors and engineers than jobs for them, a country short on skilled tradespeople, a country with a population of about 10 million supporting over 2 million refugees. Now imagine a nonprofit center with inspiring messages painted on every stair riser and wall, radiating hope and advocating learning. Imagine students prepared to study abroad, entrepreneurs exporting products, trades promoted, social responsibility fostered, and partnerships expanding.

Thinking about people I’m grateful for and inspired by, I keep returning to Nayef Stetieh, founder of BDC, Business Development Center, in Amman, Jordan. As part of my master’s degree program at Thunderbird we visited the BDC center in March 2017.

My favorite BDC story of that day: 50 Jordanian women were paired with 50 Syrian women refugees to become the first certified women plumbers in Jordan, working where most men were gone fighting ISIS. Brilliant matching of needs and opportunities. Inspiring example of human dignity, resilience, and partnership. 

Wherever we went in Jordan, we were invited to bring our companies to help hire the Syrians. All the government and business leaders we met spoke of their displaced neighbors with compassion, respect, and affection: “They are such hand-y people, so good with their hands. They are the artists, the craftsmen, the merchants, very hard-working people.” May all refugees find such support, welcome, and a path to self-reliance.

And may Nayef and his team’s vision succeed in Jordan, the Middle East, and around the world.