"Beam me up, Scotty"
I’m a Star Trek fan… always have been. Love the idea of exploring places where no man has been before. OK, that may not be entirely true… I like the comfort of my home too much! But I do like seeing all the ‘people’, the cultures and the civilisations that the intrepid explorers encounter - and I love that through teaching English as a second language I get to meet so people from so many different cultures and people groups too.
And some of their expressions in class; I lurch from dismay to joy as students move from ‘not getting’ to ‘really getting’ what I’m teaching.
Some of our students have come to us from desperate situations where the thought of being ‘beamed up’ in that complete ‘get me out of here’ way is their reality. I’m using this blog to let a brother and sister from Syria tell their story in their own words...
“I am 27. I was studying Physics at Al-Furat University in Deir ez-Zor for 2 years. In 2011 the war got worse. I saw pupils die, and I had to stop studying. I left, at first staying with people in different parts of the country, but in the end I had to leave for Iraq to become a refugee because it was not safe to go home.
In March I came to England.
Things are different, the weather and food! Life changed, there is no war and I go to study, I can go to the park, I can go anywhere with no problem. All people in Ipswich are friendly and I’ve made friends.
I am starting a new life. I now go running, to the gym, to English class – Suffolk Refugee Support helped me with this, bringing me to Oasis English Language School and other places. I want to improve my English and complete university, physics maybe or engineering, I’d like to be a teacher or engineer because I like buildings.”
Shireen’s story was reported in our local newspaper (the photo is of another of our students):
Ipswich Star Article: June 2016
Teenage refugee who was forced to flee Syria reveals her hopes of a university education after being resettled in Ipswich
Her house is destroyed, she is made to leave the school where she was once top of the class and forced to flee the country that she calls home – the impact of the war in Syria has been catastrophic for Shireen.
But now the 19-year-old is beginning to shape dreams for her future, aspiring to go to university and become a doctor so she can give free aid to those in need, as she sits within the safety of her new home in Ipswich.
Shireen is a Syrian Kurd who for the last four years has been living as a refugee in Iraqi Kurdistan after she was told by officials in her home country: “Go somewhere else, because if you stay, you die.”
Life was hard in Iraq, Shireen says, her family had no money, no car and no belongings. Her brothers worked 16 hours a day just to provide food and essentials for the rest of their family.
Shireen lived in an apartment with her mother, three brothers, her sister-in-law and her nieces and nephews, while two of her other brothers had to live in a tent within a refugee camp, where there was just one toilet to share between three families. Her family were approached by United Nations Refugee Agency officials and were interviewed to assess whether they were eligible to be resettled in the United Kingdom.
“For six months we had an interview every two months and after that we go to hospital and they make us have tests,” Shireen said.