Applying Tools Learned at Yale SOM to Positively Impact the Syrian Refugee Crisis

December 1, 2015

“Stop planning; start acting” were the words spoken by a colleague of mine during our last day of the Yale SOM Global Pre-MBA Leadership Program. Hearing those words, along with many of the other arguments and ideas in the program, have since had a profound influence on my personal and professional development.

When I decided to take a more hands-on role in easing the Syrian refugees’ crisis in my home country of Syria, it was the dialog I had at Yale’s Global Pre-MBA Leadership Program that spurred me into action. I decided to start a petition asking the U.S. government to admit 65,000 Syrian refugees into the United States. Along with a fellow Pre-MBA colleague and friend who had a renowned activism record, we developed a strategy to achieve our goal. I had a great opportunity to directly learn how to utilize proven strategies in dealing with the media and how to best engage the American public in this conversation.

The outcome was phenomenal, as the petition gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures in less than a month. I have since been invited to the White House to further discuss the matter and make the argument on behalf of Syrian refugees to senior officials from the Obama administration. Later that same week, Secretary of State John Kerry announced an official increase in the cap of refugees to 85,000 in 2016 and 100,000 in 2017, along with being open to larger increases after that date. This marks a drastic change from the 70,000 historical yearly cap. Being able to create this change in public policy with my team would never have happened without the confidence and the urgency to act I learned at Yale.

Yale SOM provided an idyllic place for passionate minds to exchange thoughts, for top professors to transfer their expertise, for innovative ideas to grow with confidence. Simply put, it was, at least for me, a magical place.

2015 Global Pre-MBA Leadership Program

As a young professional with a heavy finance background and coming from a developing country known for its failed socialist cronyism economy, I was, and still am, a big proponent of free markets and capitalism. However, my time at Yale taught me valuable lessons in the 21st-century business world. Perhaps most significantly, I learned the importance of capturing the essence of the human element, with equal interest given to the economic value in whatever venture or engagement in which I get involved.

After experiences ranging from the profound debates as to whether Walmart is good or bad for the American economy, to arguing about the development experiments and practices in Bangladesh, to discussing the importance of entrepreneurship in the current globalized economy, to the deep conversations about different approaches to balancing our lives over lunch breaks, I went back to the real world refreshed and full of confidence that I also can make the world a better place. For those additional 40,000 Syrian refugees who will be coming to the U.S. with hopes to rebuild their lives in the land of opportunity, I am happy that I was able to have a role in their journey for stability and happiness.

To this day, I still cherish all of my Pre-MBA class colleagues with whom I became friends at Yale. The opportunity to be among such brilliant people has made me challenge myself to think more critically and differently and to aim higher, not only professionally, but also in terms of making my impact on the world. I without a doubt became more humane to my approach to life and business, and I am truly thankful for the opportunity to help me define my niche in this world.

During my time at Yale SOM, I grew and became a better version of myself.

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About the author

George Batah

Global Pre-MBA Leadership Program Student