Citizen Journalism Summer 2018 Student Stories
The following article was reported by a student in Paper Airplanes' online Citizen Journalism class in the summer of 2018. Subject matter and quotes do not represent or reflect Paper Airplanes' views as an organization.
With the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, and after most of Syria's regions became war zones, people fled the country to seek refuge in neighboring countries. One of those countries was Turkey, which opened its doors to the Syrian refugees and presented help in many areas. At the education level, Turkey allowed students from Yemen, Egypt and Syria, who had suspended their studies because of the unstable situation in their country, the ability to complete their studies at Turkish universities.
This program started in 2013, but most of the students who benefited from this opportunity were not able to speak Turkish because they had recently arrived to the country. Not speaking Turkish made it very difficult to apply to universities because Turkish is the official language in Turkey and only 17 percent of the Turkish population speaks English, according to a 2006 Eurobarometer report.
“We were the first batch that wanted to take advantage of this opportunity, and the absence of older students made it difficult for us, so me and some friends created a group on Facebook named Transferring To Istanbul University, which provides students with information on applying to Turkish universities. Our group now has ten thousand students," said Mohamed Hammami.
Through his experience, Hammami said he and a group of friends applied to multiple universities and they have sufficient experience in solving the issues that students face during registration.
Ahmed Mukresh, a recent graduate of the University of Istanbul, who is now part of the Facebook group, did not have the benefit of utilizing its resources when he first came to Turkey.
“When I came to Turkey, I did not know that I can continue my studies here but after spending two years, I applied for Istanbul University. Two years later my language improved and then one of my Turkish friends helped me with the applying steps,” Mukresh said.
“The long hours of work prevented me from using social media, so I did not have the opportunity to see any of the support groups on Facebook,” Mukresh added.
“I am new in Turkey, but the Facebook group provided me with all the necessary steps to register at the university,” said Tamam Jana, a 24-year-old Syrian refugee who came to Istanbul last year and had been cut off from studying in Syria.
Jana said “one of the members of the group not only provided me with the application information, but accompanied me to the university to apply.”
"The date of submission was at the beginning of this month, and on the seventeenth of the month my name was approved,” he said. “My dream of completing my studies has been achieved.”