Dr. Curt Rhodes
April 19, 2023
Founder's Series: Our Founder and Chief Vision Officer, Dr. Curt Rhodes, on what it means to serve the last.

Changing the future could be awesome. It seems to mean going back to change something in the past, so that you can get back to the future that will be different. Except that you should have a name like McFly and have a friend like a physics professor with “that kind” of hair.

In the refugee camp where Obaidat lives, they have no McSomething family names and no mad professors with any kind of hair. So, impossible to change the future. Not just awesome. Impossible.

What do you do when you are not sure about what kind of education you can get for some kind of impossible future that would be different than where you are stuck today?  You surf the web. Obviously. So, he surfed.

And a Questscope ad for Future Changers in the Zaatari refugee camp popped up. Nothing to lose, since he had lived in that camp from 2013 with his parents, 5 sisters and 2 brothers since he was 7. So, he clicked. Enrolled. Ran full-tilt into a colossal shift.

At age 17, the score on THE test at the end of 12th grade gets you into a university door and determines what you can study there. Or not. So, self-confidence is important to maintain positive energy for the whole year of preparation for that single event.

Obaidat was running life at a deficit of confidence and a surplus of worry. Not the best for seeking to master academics. Tense. Shy. Stressed-out.

The shift: The teacher-facilitator in the Future Changers program backed him up for academic learning. Gave him courage for grit and perseverance, and helped with anger management and relieving stress. He made lots of friends with whom he got a chance to figure-out adolescent sexual growth and how early, forced marriage is not good for reproductive health.

Obaidat intends to become an electrical engineer, who prioritizes the human development of people. It is a long road ahead. But he is actually in the exact place that he will look back on one day and know that he did change the past, and his future did turn out differently.

And he did not have to change his name to McObaidat!


Curt pic1
Founder & Chief Vision Officer

Dr. Curt Rhodes

Curt Rhodes has spent close to 40 years working with, and on behalf of, marginalized communities and young people across the Middle East.

As the recipient of the 2014 Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award, Dr. Rhodes was recognized by Tufts University for his demonstrated compassion and tenacity in creating a highly effective and determined organization dedicated to the survival and nurturing of the most vulnerable and disenfranchised.

In recognition of his work with marginalized youth in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and in the region, Dr. Rhodes was awarded 2011 Social Entrepreneur of the Year for the Middle East and North Africa by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.

Dr. Rhodes began his career in the Middle East in the early 1980s, as Assistant Dean in the School of Public Health at the American University of Beirut. During the 1982 invasion of west Beirut, he volunteered in a community-based clinic alongside students and friends, doing around-the-clock triage for wounded and ill civilians. That was when the seed idea for Questscope began to take shape. Living and working with people in great suffering compelled him to find a way that he and others in the Middle East could assist the most vulnerable: participating with the voiceless ones in invisible communities.

In 1988, Questscope was founded with the goal of putting the last, first. From the beginning, Questscope worked closely with local communities, identifying their aspirations and together addressing their greatest needs.