A Lesson in Optimism

Reflections on World Refugee Day from Amplify Program Director Shauna Carey

Optimism is at the heart of human-centered design. It is the engine that allows us to reframe problems as provocations and experiment with new solutions. The dictionary defines optimism as “a hopefulness and confidence about the future,” which sounds easy enough in theory, but can be difficult to hold onto when the problems we face seem insurmountable.

This year, our nightly news broadcasts and social media feeds have been awash with news of a global rise in the number of refugees. And with more than 65 million people around the world displaced by conflict or disaster, it would be easy to lose hope.

But behind the staggering statistics and heartbreaking stories, there is still reason to believe in possibility. Over the past nine months, I’ve watched as the five winners of Amplify’s Refugee Education Challenge prototyped and piloted innovative education opportunities in some of the world’s most challenging places to work—imagining a brighter future for refugees across Africa and the Middle East and then taking action.

Undaunted by the scope and scale of the challenges before them, they are reinventing preschool, helping refugee women launch new businesses, bridging educational gaps for both students and teachers, and equipping thousands of volunteers to ignite a love of reading among refugee children.

In celebration of World Refugee Day, I encourage you to read their stories. Their hope, optimism, and creativity has certainly inspired me, and makes me all the more confident that putting refugees and their stories at the center of our solutions is the only way to address the crisis.

All five winners of Amplify’s Refugee Education Challenge meeting at Amplify's bootcamp

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