The purpose of this article is to turn an interview conducted with Ahmad into written words in order to showcase one of the many successful cases of Paper Airplanes (PA). Ahmad enrolled in Paper Airplanes in 2017. He was initially a student in the Youth Exchange program, and he eventually became a student coordinator and then a tutor.
Ahmad, who is a Syrian refugee, faced many problems for a variety of reasons, and he especially struggled to pursue an education. Paper Airplanes helped him by offering a range of courses and ultimately the possibility to become a staff member. But most of all, PA has given him the hope and the strength of pursuing his goals.
N: As a student, what was your impression of PA?
A: “Throughout my life experience I had the chance to study English for three in years when I was in Aleppo and during that time I could not continue to express myself in English for more than five minutes. I was quite good in terms of reading and writing but I was not able to have a conversation. With the PA, I improved so much so that I was able to teach English in a private school in Lebanon. I started in 2017 with the youth exchange program (For me the course was very well organized especially with regards to the pronunciation of English words); then I did a conversation English group and my final experience as a student was at the art cooperation course. I was amazed by the tutor and the methods she used in teaching us; she gave us a lot of information which I did not know before.”
N: Which kind of obstacles have you encountered as a student?
A: Since I was working as a teacher it was not easy for me to attend all the lessons. Besides, I tried to prepare for the exams but most of the time I could not participate because at the same time the electricity was cut off. Also for my second course, which I attended from Syria, it was really challenging because technical issues such as the electricity prevented me to attend each lesson.
N: What are the main ways that the PA has impacted your life?
A: Let me give you an example. In the Syrian schools, before the civil war, it was quite normal to feel fear towards your professors; however, when I started my first course at the PA, my professor was younger than me and so I did not have fear of him. When I got more closer to him, I narrated him my whole story and he started to cry and since that shared moment, he initiates to encourage me to keep pursuing my dreams. At that time, I was really pessimistic and melancholic but my professor had a huge impact on me. When I became a tutor I tried to donate the same energy and advice and encouragements to my students. For example, one of my students who is living in France was feeling panicked about his final exam and I told him to call whenever he felt in need, even just to talk.
Finally, I had an amazing journey with the PA, and thanks to the organization I understood my life goals such as making a difference for the benefit of those who are experiencing a difficult situation because he or she is a refugee, an internal displaced [person], or a migrant. The PA gives something to the people who are deprived of being able to learn. Their job is amazing. I thank the PA a lot for offering me a scholarship for a 1st s an MBA at Nexford University. Personally speaking, I had a dream and when they knew it, they helped me to achieve it. I hope to remain forever with the PA. When I chose to volunteer for the PA, I essentially reused the knowledge I acquired when I was a student.”
About the author:
My name is Nura Alawia and I'm a big fan of travel. The best part of traveling is getting to know people with different experiences, cultures, and traditions (including food, of course). For my undergraduate degree, I chose to study Arabic while for my master's I opted for a more specific area which is Middle Eastern politics. At the moment I am an intern at the PA and I cannot be happier considering the objectives of the organization and given the people involved in it whose inspiration, friendship, and high motivation are fantastic.
The views and opinions represented in this post belong solely to the author of the blog post, and are not representative of the views and policies of Paper Airplanes and its staff members