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Chris Watts

Chris Watts

Founder of Future Academy; English Language Graduate, 2011

Supporting child refugees in Lebanon

Chris founded Future Academy, a charity which provides English lessons and football coaching to child refugees in Lebanon. Future Academy is now the biggest provider of education in Beirut's many refugee camps. Google, Zoom, Accenture and MSF have all partnered with Future Academy's education revolution for forgotten children.  

An image of Chris Watts.

A short interview with Chris:

What was your favourite memory from your time at Newcastle University?

My favourite memory was being published three times in the Castle Leazes magazine. It was the first paid writing job I ever did! I remember feeling like I could actually achieve all of my dreams - except playing for Man United, that ship had sailed a few years earlier.

How did your degree help you in your current career?

Interestingly, the modules I enjoyed the least have helped me the most. Syntax, for instance, was too scientific for me: I would dream of writing about tropical islands and uncontacted tribes in places far from the Percy or Armstrong Buildings I studied in. Now, it helps me teach refugees English.

Pick one clear issue, research and assess it from all sides; the full 360 degrees. Choose the best angle: start doing it straight away.

Chris Watts

What initially motivated you to take action on social justice?

I worked for the Dubai Royal family as a personal tutor for 5 years. My wallet was full but my soul felt empty. I volunteered for MSF and spent a week in Burj Barajneh refugee camp, Lebanon. I don't think MSF's productivity improved at all during my time there, as I spent most days running round the camp playing football and catch with the kids. I started teaching them English on the football pitch with Ahmad al Jamal, the first Palestinian refugee from the camp to play professional football in Lebanon. The only thing worse than having no hope, is someone giving you hope, then taking it away. I wasn't prepared to be that guy.

What piece of advice would you give to students and alumni who have an interest in tackling social justice?

Pick one clear issue, research and assess it from all sides; the full 360 degrees. Choose the best angle: start doing it straight away. 

What would you still like to achieve?

Open a Future academy in Brazil. Specifically, Rocinha - a favela in Rio de Janeiro. Write a sitcom.