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student magazine #2

kiron

new beginnings


new beginnings kiron

new beginnings

03

student magazine #2


Support our mission! Get involved! www.kiron.ngo — PRODUCTION

Fabienne Huber EDITOR AND STUDENT LIASON

Anne Parsons ART DIRECTION – LAYOUT AND DESIGN

04

Nils Poppe COPY EDITOR

Frankie Reid, Lily Scheuerpflug, Sofia Hedberg PHOTOGRAPHER

Ehab Badwi STUDENT WORKSHOP

Jörg Ehrnsberger —

kiron magazine

created in cooperation with


Esra Küçük MANAGING DIRECTOR ALLIANZ CULTURAL FOUNDATION

05

edition of the Kiron Student Magazine “New Beginnings” immediately brought to my mind the German expression: “Jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne” (magic dwells in each beginning) – a line from what is probably one of German poet Herman Hesse’s best-known philosophical poems, “Steps”. He wrote it in 1941 during World War II after a long illness, describing life as a process, as a succession of stages. Many of my conversations with Kiron students in recent years have reflected precisely this idea of a new stage: for them, their Kiron studies are a stepping stone into the professional world as well as a new beginning in a community of fellow students – the Kiron community.

new beginnings

Dear reader, the theme of this second

After the first edition of this magazine, under the heading “The Opening Collection”, I am extremely pleased to be able to further support the Kiron Student Magazine, not only as a member of the Kiron Advisory Board, but also as Managing Director of the Allianz Cultural Foundation, with its particular focus on the students with their own stories, dreams, and wishes. In our current times, where the subject of flight and migration is extremely visible in Europe, where one-sided images and clichés are ripe, however, it seems more urgent than ever to give a strong voice to the diverse people behind those discussions and make their multifaceted stories visible. At the Allianz Cultural Foundation, we are concerned with the work and thoughts of young people in exile. We believe that "exiled knowledge" will have an enormous impact on our society in the future, that it will change cultural life in Europe and our culture of remembrance in the long term. The keywords "growing together", "reconsidering borders" and "new beginnings”, mentioned in the stories, apply not only to the Kiron family but to all of us throughout Europe.


kiron student magazine

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Dear students, partners and supporters, I am delighted to share

the second issue of the student magazine with you. The theme of this issue is new beginnings, a particularly poignant one for our students. This collection of stories offers us a direct insight into the varied perceptions of what a new beginning can mean and the types of challenges and opportunities our students face when they start their lives in a new country. The student magazine is a platform for our students to share their stories with the Kiron community and the outside world. This form of storytelling builds a sense of community across borders and cultures and highlights the important ways that education can positively impact lives. This is what we stand for at Kiron; empowerment through education.

We have decided to give all our student community worldwide the opportunity to contribute to this year’s magazine. That's why I'm particularly pleased that this issue features the creative writing, personal essays, poetry and photography of 28 Kiron students who live in 13 different countries. I would like to express my respect and gratitude to the students for their courage and openness in sharing their stories. Moreover, a special thanks to our partner, the Allianz Cultural Foundation, who made this project possible. Therefore, I ask you to share this magazine and to help us further shape the public discourse on migration worldwide. And now I would like to hand it over to the students and wish you an inspiring read! Yours sincerely, Dr. Tobias Ernst MANAGING DIRECTOR KIRON OPEN HIGHER EDUCATION

—


Our contributors have offered their heartfelt and often painful reflections on what it has been like for them to start anew – many of whom still live in difficult and challenging circumstances. Yet what resolutely emerges f rom

Dear reader, we are excited to present

each story is the acknowledg-

the second issue of our student

a profound ability to adapt, learn

magazine. These stories convey a

and make new connections. It fol-

ment that new beginnings are always possible, and that we have

sense of just how diverse the lives

lows a special format because it

of refugees and displaced people

opens up a new perspective on

can be.

refugees, namely, their own.

They reveal their courage and fear,

They are people who are very of-

their hope and despair and also

ten written and reported about,

their pursuit of new perspectives.

but rarely heard. Through the

Lao Tzu, the 6th-century Chinese

magazine, Kiron students have

philosopher remarked that “new

the opportunity to tell their own

beginnings are often described

stories based on their individual

as painful endings.”

experiences and to be heard by 07

the public. An online version also exists to make the magazine accessible to all our Kiron students and to as many people as possible. We hope that the magazine will illuminate the manifold perspectives of Kiron’s student community as well as refugees and displaced people worldwide and, above all, will motivate them to continue following their potential.

Anne Parsons & Fabienne Huber EDITORIAL TEAM

new beginnings

Yours,


CONTENT

Esra Küçük GREETING

Dr. Tobias Ernst GREETING

Anne Parsons & Fabienne Huber GREETING

05 I am Osama…

06

OSAMA

Between life and death STALLONE

07

Now I have been studying… ZAHER

My way to Germany as a refugee EDRIS

When I started with Kiron… MOHAMAD

The lost princess AMMAR

A new beginning 08

AYA

My name is Yaser… YASER

My name is Wasim… WASIM

Growing together

kiron student magazine

SIHAM

I am Mohamed… MOHAMED

I love sunsets… SHAEMA

Reconsidering borders ALI

21 23 25 26 27

11 13 14 15 16 17 19 20


My name is Somar… SOMAR

New beginnings ANDREW

My story of immigration… FAHAD

Hello, my name is Ehab… EHAB

I will never forget the moment… HOSAM

You know, I am fine here FARID

From zero to Kiron SAEED

My name is Ibrahim… IBRAHIM

A new world OSAGIE

A humble beginning ABDIFEISAL

My name is Radwan… RADWAN

When I was born in 1992… PIERRE

Generation x? SAMAH

Be positive RANIN

31 33 39 40 41 42

43 44

09

MAHMUD

30

45 47 49 51 52

new beginnings

Don’t give up

29


kiron student magazine

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Osama SYRIA – GERMANY

f rom my entire childhood, was one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. That was, until I endured the gruesome passage through Turkey and Greece, that so many countless others like myself have had to endure due to having no other choice. Little did I know, that this was the point of no return. The days of being in a peaceful, harmonious community where

I am Osama, a positive guy passionate about life. When

preciation for your family, friends,

I think about war and the violence caused by it, it is

and neighbours – these days

not the physical pain that first comes to mind but

would be gone forever. My arrival

rather the emotional. It is the hate and judgment

in Germany, like for so many other

brought on by the war, the prejudice people start to

refugees, brought on a mix of feel-

feel and the barriers that they put up in fear of all the

ings. On one side, I was happy to

politically charged ideals – that is what causes more

have made it, to have the chance

pain in the long term.

to start over and build a new life.

Even when – sometimes I wonder if – the civil war

On the other side, I never felt so

will end, I know that the hate and distance that has

unwanted and isolated as I did

been built over the years will take decades before it

upon my original arrival in Leipzig

can get better. When I used to speak with strangers,

and later in Limbach.

it was about getting to know them as a person, now

I knew I should feel grateful, and

it is always about where someone is from, what reli-

in many ways I did. But when you

gion they practice and what political party they sup-

are in poor living conditions, stay-

port. I don’t like this. In the first few moments when

ing in refugee camps that allow

we meet new people, we are already making our

for no privacy and only halfway

judgments. I don’t want to be viewed as the man

decent living conditions, it is hard

from Syria or the refugee in Germany. I am Osama,

to stay positive. But I did.

a positive guy, passionate about life, a family man

And I believe that it is because of

who values good relationships and a strong com-

my positivity and my hope for a

munity, and most of all, I am a hopeful person. Life

better path that eventually, I was

hasn’t been easy these past few years. More spe-

granted the opportunity to make my dreams a reality.

2015. A lot has changed in the past few years, and

Learning the language was the

I feel my patience and faith in the goodness of peo-

hardest part about working to-

ple has been challenged. But I am still here, strong

wards my dreams – German is not

and ready to tackle whatever problems life throws

an easy language! But I knew that

at me. Despite all the travel, change, the language

focusing on my education, on

barrier and racism that I have experienced in the last

learning the native language and

three years, I have also experienced kindness, gen-

working towards getting my uni-

erosity, and opportunity. Leaving Damascus, my

versity degree, was the only an-

hometown, a place filled with amazing memories

swer towards success.

new beginnings

cifically, life has been testing me since December

11

there was mutual respect and ap-


Before I was forced to leave Damascus, I had nearly completed my second semester in computer engineering. I heard there was a good computer science program in Saarland and before I knew it, this became my goal. I thought about it day and night. So I started to learn and study everything and anything. I needed to learn German, I needed to pass some tests, everything seemed quite practical, but the practical parts proved to be more challenging than I had expected. It was about a year after my arrival that I learned about Kiron. I had heard about it from many friends and was eager to see what the fuss was about. So I applied, was accepted and start-

»

 I don't want to be viewed as the man from Syria or the refugee in Germany. I am Osama, a positive guy, passionate about life, a family man who values good relationships and a strong community, and most of all, I am a hopeful person.«

ed studying. I started the computer science study

kiron student magazine

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track, and while I learned a lot about the courses I

wards completing my bachelor’s degree, and hope-

needed for the computer science field, it was not

fully one day also my master's! I know it will not be

the most valuable lesson I learned from Kiron. Kiron

easy, but I am determined. I am taking a program-

helped me understand how universities in Germa-

ming course right now and it’s very difficult. I study

ny work. I know this must seem really basic, but for

80 hours a week at university and even more once

me, it's priceless. When I first arrived, I didn’t know

I am home. Here, in Germany, through education, I

how to buy my own bus or train ticket, and before I

have a chance.

knew it, thanks to Kiron, I was not only buying tickets,

It is funny how much can change in a year. While the

but I was understanding the system and the way so-

racism I faced when I first arrived still lingers around

ciety here works - this for me was everything. I even

dark corners, things have gotten better. I have met

attended several Kiron events, which were great. I

amazing friends from Germany as well as other for-

got to take part in workshops, study weekends and

eigners, I am studying a subject I am really passion-

work on different projects, all the while meeting in-

ate about and I even have a minijob! I know count-

credibly supportive people. All the things I learned

less other refugees who desperately search for mini-

and experienced were so helpful - I can’t imagine

jobs to earn some money and make a better living, so

where I would be without it. I think the hardest mo-

for this, I am also grateful. Every day I am still learn-

ment for me in my new life in Germany was when I

ing about the German culture and working to inte-

did not pass the language test the first time I took it.

grate more into my new society, but I still wish others

I was broken. As if everything I had worked so hard

would try to do the same.

for meant nothing. I watched my dreams shatter in

But when I meet people who aren’t interested in get-

f ront of me – without German, there would be no

ting to know me or my story, I remind myself that for

university, and without university, there was no fu-

every bad person in the world, there are just as many,

ture. Equally as important, my most beautiful mo-

if not more, good people. I truly believe that if we all

ment in Germany, was the moment I passed my DSH

come together and face one another as human be-

certificate, which would allow me to attend univer-

ings, that we can build a better, more peaceful world.

sity. My language skills were good enough, I was

Instead of focusing on things that put up walls, like

done taking tests to prove myself as a student and, in

comparing religious and political views, we should

some ways as a person!

focus on things that bring us together. Like food, art,

And just like that, the shattered image was put back

and culture! For example, I love Kartoffelsalat...I nev-

together and hope was once again on the horizon. I

er knew that potatoes could be a salad, and yet, here

later took an IQ test at the University of Saarbrücken,

in Germany, it is! If we could all just talk about things

knowing that if I passed I could have a chance at be-

we liked and had in common more often, maybe life

ing a real student again. And I did! I passed and start-

would be better and everybody would smile a little

ed a three-month program that eventually led me

more with each new day. —

to where I am now. I am in my first semester at the University of Saarbrücken. I am finally on track to-


Stallone

A

refugee life is not an easy life, but also it depends on your background, your relatives and your financial situation. Mine was hard and when I reached Kenya, everything was dark for me. It was the first time I ever left my family, friends, and relatives, I had changed from an urban life to a rural life, where you move for kilometers by foot under the hot sun, where nobody cares about you, where everyone is crying, where in order to get food you could get slapped by the police, where you can be taken to the hospital in a wheelbarrow; a life where if you get sick, you will be given a paracetamol no matter what kind of illness you have – a life with only a bit of security. That's why I called this piece, “Between Life and Death.”

new beginnings

between life and death

I understood through that experience, the meaning of being alone, the real sense of the word “refugee”. After years, as a man, I couldn't close my hands. I went for vocational training despite the bad learning conditions and I gathered my last reserves of energy to get a certificate in filmmaking because, at that time, I saw my life as a film and I felt like I should share the story. I made a short drama, which won a Filmaid Film Festival prize in 2015 and which took me to another state of mind, where I realized that life can be calm and that I could do more things to positively impact my world, instead of stressing myself because no one will come to take care of me. Now I continue learning with the full hope that life won't end for me in a refugee situation. I feel like I can make my name in this world. —

13

CONGO – KENYA


Zaher SYRIA – JORDAN

Kiron helps me learn English and improve my listening skills, memorize thousands of words and practice speaking. It also helps me improve my political English vocabulary so that I can read international resources and updates. Being at Kiron allows me to take more steps to convert my passion for politics and sociology into an actual career. Kiron also gives me a specif ic study track inside an ocean of hundreds of MOOC courses and random books. Thanks to the supportive Kiron atmosphere, it allows me, for the first time, to actually study MOOC courses and

Now I have been studying for a few months at Kiron, and I’ve passed some courses

have certificates, rather than watching YouTube and reading websites and books which are neither organized nor recognized by academic society. Kiron teaches me research skills and scientific methodology and teaches me a lot about the history and philosophy and politics of the West. It has reignited

successfully. Before Kiron, I was

my interest in entrepreneurship, after a period of for-

passionate about political issues,

getting about it, and re-encouraged me to revive my

and as a blogger and writer, I was

last project, which was to open a research center.

reading a lot of political books

Since I have been at Kiron, my community is sup-

and having plenty of discussions,

porting me more to achieve my dream to be a po-

attending workshops and confer-

litical scientist, and it's even the first time my moth-

ences, and doing everything I can

er began to support my dream and for me, this is

for my big dream; to become a po-

the greatest thing. In the past, there were only a few

litical sociologist.

close people supporting me, such as my wife. —

Since my career is in a different 14

f ield, as a radiographer technician, I find lots of benefits in working with the Kiron platform. For a start, I was astonished at the level of care and student support provided. Things are organized and planned, and feedback is taken seriously. There are student forums, a student magazine, a psychological counseling service,

kiron student magazine

and a lot more amazing and attractive things that make you feel like you are in a higher education institute. I'm talking from experience, I have lived the college life before and also studied online but never before have I felt the sense that I was at a higher education institute while studying online.

»

 Being at Kiron allows me to take more steps to convert my passion for politics and sociology into an actual career."


Edris SYRIA – GERMANY

However, when I did several internships in Germany, I learned more about the culture and the people. For example, in Germany there is a clear separation between colleagues, friends, and acquaintances but this separation does not exist at home – at home, every colleague and acquaintance is also a friend. I hope that my children in Germany can get a good education and a good job. In an ideal future, our homeland would become something more like Germany, both economically and by law. As an intern, I have found that through internships you can also learn the way the system works, which makes finding a job much easier. In 2017, the Fischer Landmaschinen company gave me the opportunity to do an internship where I could gain experience with new machines in the agricultural sector. I hope that I will have a good career in this area. —

15

po, Syria. In 1995, I completed my final high school exams in Aleppo. At that time, there was a lot of competition to get good grades in school and it was not easy because of other criteria, which I don't want to go into here. After graduating from high school, I looked for a way to study in Germany, and most of my schoolmates had the same goal of obtaining a job abroad. From 1995 to 2003, I studied agricultural sciences at the University of Aleppo. Then, from 2009 to 2013, I finished my master’s studies. After this, I completed a doctoral thesis within the framework of fish biodiversity in the river Afrin. From 2006 until I left my country, I founded my own company with two colleagues in the agricultural sector. In 2014, I left my country and came to Germany. At first, you think that you are in a safe country, but there are many things such as the language, integration, and finding a job, that you have to take care of. Personally I try to master these new things in my new country, but sometimes I have days where I feel like giving up. The war at home isn't over yet, I still hear bad news every day. What I miss the most is my social life and the festive atmosphere. I came to Germany at the end of 2015, and immediately set about learning the language and finding a job. In the beginning I learned the language with the help of a volunteer teacher and then I did several internships in different fields. For me, the culture in Europe was not that different from my expectations, because I worked as a receptionist in a hotel for six years in Syria and I had also learned some things from relatives.

new beginnings

M

my way to Germany as a refugee y name is Edris, and I was born in 1976, in Alep-


Mohamad SYRIA – GERMANY

» When I started with Kiron I didn't like the con-

 I have never thought that I could go this far with online learning, but everything started with just a few clicks and then my faith and belief started to grow.«

cept of online learning, because I thought it would be boring, have no value behind it and that there

would be no interactive communication with others. For me, online learning was something I'd

kiron student magazine

16

never cared about before and I

chance to meet very nice people

thought it was not even trustwor-

who have always been really sup-

thy, because of so many fake web-

portive and very friendly. They are

sites. Later, and after using differ-

real people, not robots with artifi-

ent types of resources, receiving

cial intelligence.

tips from friends and suggestions

For me, Kiron not only offers ed-

from people that have experience

ucational access to a world of

with online learning, I started to

knowledge, but it also involves

realize that the online education

people who want to make a bet-

world exists as much as the of-

ter future through education and

fline one. For example, there are

knowledge; for the people who

a lot of people using emails, so-

need a light at the end of the tun-

cial media and websites for com-

nel. I have never thought that I

munication – even governments

could go this far with online learn-

have online activities and inter-

ing, but everything started with

ests. After a while, I started to un-

just a few clicks and then my faith

derstand how much value Kiron

and belief started to grow. For me,

has, and the advantages it has to

Kiron is a very reliable environ-

offer. Not only for me, but also for

ment in the world of online edu-

my f riends, Kiron has been very

cation and offers a true gateway

supportive in relation to educa-

to the offline education world. I'm

tion, connections and life issues.

progressing with my language

Now I'm improving my German

skills and I still have a lot to learn. —

and English skills and I have a better chance and more connections to study and meet people. Once, I taught a hip-hop dance workshop with the people at Kiron in their workspace and I had a


Ammar IRAQ – GERMANY

I

the lost princess

Many legends say that she changed her name so nobody calls her Cinderella anymore, now she has another name, and she lives now as a normal girl in a small house. She doesn't wear princess dresses nor a crown, she has a job as any normal girl. Some legends even say that she forgets that she is a princess or that she didn’t even know that, so how can I find her? If I meet her how will I recognize her? It's really so complicated, it's an impossible mission. But I have to try…so what does the princess look like? I still remember her face, her hair, how she smiles and how her green eyes look; she was always happy, She has a friendly, Smiley, Amazing, Nice, Delighted, and a Rare Attractive personality. She is such a lovely princess, she loves everyone and everyone in the castle loves her because of her big heart - she really has a big heart…Such a big heart... But all that may change. It's such a long time since I lost her, there is only one thing nobody can change: the heart, she has a big heart. The biggest heart in the world, filled with love and a big heart never changes...So I have to search for this big heart. I can find her when I find her heart. Finally, I'm safe, I'm here in Germany, I just arrived ten days ago. I need somebody to help me, to talk with me, I have no friends, there was nobody to tell me what I have to do.

17

new beginnings

still remember the tale of the lost princess which I used to watch and to read about when I was a little child, and I still wonder: what happened to the nice lost princess? What does she do now? And how does she live? I have to find her… My journey started many years ago. The main question was always: where and how can I find her? Should I search in the mountains, in the caves or in the forests…Maybe in the old castles...I don't know how and where, I only know one thing…I have to find her. I want to tell her only one thing: “you are a princess, you need to know that”.


18 kiron student magazine

Near to the purple door there were some papers on a board with some descriptions. “If you need some information or have any questions, we are here to help you.” On the first floor, there was an office. Inside, there was a lady. Usually, I'm not courageous enough to start a conversation with someone I don’t know, but at this moment there was something pushing me straight ahead...OK, I have no choice, I have to talk to her... me: Hello, have you some time, please? she: Yes sure, come in... me: I have been here for 10 days, I need someone to tell me about the next steps, I don't know if I'm in the correct place? she: Yes, you are in the correct place, give me your name... she: Can you tell me your birthday? me: It's today…12th of October, today is my birthday. Here and at this moment...I started my new life in my new country, Germany. Everybody here is ready to help anybody at any time, where everybody smiles; these smiles always give me new hope in this life. It's really difficult when the war forced me to leave my home country, I lost my house, my successful life, my job. I lost the feeling of being with my family and I lost my motivation in this life…I have no motivation…I'm lost…I lost the meaning of life. But it's not my first time feeling like that: as a little child I lost my princess. I have still tried to find her for a long time and I will find my new life again. I always needed her help and she was always ready to help me, I met her every day…She is my lawyer when I need a lawyer, my translator when I need a translator, my doctor when I'm sick and my friend when I need a friend. She is my family when I feel alone, she gives always, smiles always and is nice always. She helps all and everybody here loves her, she has a big heart, a really big heart… Hmm, but wait...what does that mean? Nice, lovely and have a big heart!! A really friendly, Smiley, Amazing, Nice, Delighted, and a Rare sort of Attractive personality...OK, what about her eyes? Did she have green eyes? I have to check, but she always puts her glasses on when she is in her office. Later, it was my first time meeting her at an event out of her office, to see her without glasses and to look directly into her eyes...to her green eyes... Yes, she has green eyes…I think I found her. Yes finally I found her. She is the lost princess, my lost princess…

She doesn't need to put on a crown or wear a luxurious dress or live in a big castle to be a princess, she already has all that she needs to be a princess…she is so lovely, nice and friendly, she has a big heart filled with love and royal blood…this princess helped me to find my lost life, my new life…it's the end of my long journey…I have arrived at my final destination…I'm safe now… It's October again, I have been here in this great country for about one year, and in the next few days I will celebrate the day when I found my lost life, when I met her on my birthday on the 12th of October, it's my real birthday…and this year it's me who has to give presents on my birthday… because it's my birthday! —


Aya IRAQ – MALAYSIA

Life is like the ocean, it moves in every direction, never still, and you never know what’s hiding. Life, at its fundamental nature, is unpredictable. If it were not, it would then be viewed as death; certain and unchanging. Through an understanding of the fundamental nature of life, we get to see the true meaning of new begin-

a new beginning

nings. By admitting to ourselves that despite our predictions of the future (accurate as they may be), our drawn paths and visions, we are never truly certain of the outcome of an approaching to-

tional animals, and since then we have viewed

tion, we will never truly have free-

ourselves as creatures of logic, self-awareness, and

dom in our choices; for it is at the

emotion. Of course, Aristotle’s definition isn’t abso-

heart of the unknown where free-

lute in the sense that every man is a rational man,

dom lies. If we don’t choose to

rather, his premise lies entirely on the fact that a hu-

dive into the unknown future, it is

man being is an animal which is capable of rationali-

never truly ours. It then becomes

ty. The so-called “fact” that we are all rational is in re-

a mere change in circumstance

ality but a common misconception, one which is ac-

which has happened as a con-

companied usually by many other illusions such as

sequence of an event which has

the belief of having spent one’s life in a manner of

befallen us. You may think back

free choice.

to all the times you’ve decided

Little do we know how often that truly is the case.

to start over, or to try something

It is at this point where you begin to wonder, “what

again, with the hopes that this

does this have to do with New Beginnings”, and it is

time you’d achieve something dif-

here where I share my opinion on the matter, by say-

ferent. How can that be? When

ing, “if we hadn’t made the choice ourselves, it is not

all you’ve done is try to relive a

a new beginning”. Obvious, it seems.

slightly tweaked version of the same experience. To truly have a

 To truly have a new beginning, is to relive the experience of birth; to look at the world without prejudice, without expectations; to be pastless.«

new beginning, is to relive the experience of birth; to look at the world without prejudice, without expectations; to be pastless. By embracing our past without any judgement and accepting the unknown future we finally come to the decision of living a new experience; a new beginning. —

new beginnings

»

And, until we make this realisa-

19

A

morrow. ristotle famously defined human beings as ra-


Yaser AFGHANISTAN – INDONESIA

kiron student magazine

20

My name is Yaser and I am from Afghanistan. My hobbies are

reading, writing, discovering new things and computer programming. Programming makes me feel organized and clever. I like to write code when I am alone. When I was persecuted, I totally lost hope, I stopped dreaming and life wasn't good. But when I found out about Kiron, I was happy to discover a platform like this for refugees. Since I started with Kiron, my hope has been growing and I have been dreaming more than ever. It is around a year and a half that I have been studying with Kiron. I have learned many new things. Particularly, I remember when I started with Kiron, my English was so bad that I could not even engage with Kiron's online platform. At that time, it was very challenging for me to study with Kiron. But now I love the Kiron platform. Another good thing I have made through Kiron's platform is friendship. I have made many friends.

I want to be a programmer. So, every morning I get up early and start my day in the place where I can achieve my goal: my work on the Kiron platform. I have learned so many things in the field of computer science. Kiron has taught me to fight for whatever I love, and to work hard to achieve that. You know, since I joined the Kiron courses, I have become a big dreamer. I dream bigger than ever before. I hope that Kiron keeps developing so that it can help refugees achieve their goals. At least enough to meet refugee educational requirements and help them to achieve their goals. —


Wasim SYRIA – GERMANY

all different religions and not forgetting our ancient historical remains which date from hundreds of thousands of years ago. We represent our culture and our traditions, whether we like it or not. For example, when you meet someone for the first time, he or she is most likely going to ask you, “where are you f rom?" Based on this question, he or she will generate another question under the after a while, he or she will start to refer to you by your country. “I

21

My name is Wasim and I am 26 years old. I have been in Ger-

knew a Syrian guy who was …”, because it’s an easy way for people

many for three years: I spent a year and a half in

to refer to you if they know noth-

Clausthal-Zellerfeld, and I lived in Göttingen for six

ing else about you.

months. I like to explore new places, that’s why I trav-

Because I recognized this, as soon

el around Germany and visit places like Magdeburg,

as I arrived here, I tried to act “per-

Dresden and even Berlin which I visited a couple of

fectly”. Not to show that I am this

times. I believe we as foreigners in general, and as

amazing guy, but in an attempt

Syrians especially, are playing an ambassadorial

to be a good ambassador for my

role, in one way or another, because we are the win-

country, for those who are around

dow through which others (especially locals) see our

me. We are all humans and we all

country. Sadly many of them have never been to Syr-

have flaws, however, I do believe

ia, so their ideas about it are often so general and

that the locals would rather not

based on ideas about our neighbouring countries,

see my flaws and mistakes. They

which although they might not be that different, we

welcomed me here because they

believe that we are special because of our diversi-

believed I could bring something

ty, since we contain so many minority groups from

good to their country, and at the

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category of “your country”, and


22

very least, I can have good man-

I also practiced my hobby, chess,

ners and good behaviour. This

with a small group of students

method absolutely doesn’t guar-

in Göttingen in a group called

antee that I will be flawless, how-

Chessmate and in my f irst year,

ever. When I make mistakes, I run

I traveled twice to Münster try-

to apologize straight away.

ing to build new friendships with

So where am I after three years?

Couchsurfing Münster. My plans

And how did Kiron help me?

and hopes are to bring people to-

While I had already finished my

gether. I enjoy it when I introduce

bachelor's degree in my home

someone I know to someone else,

country, applying to a German

and by bringing people togeth-

university is a totally different sto-

er, we are bringing our brains to-

ry. My certificates have been ac-

gether as well. Problems can be

cepted at two places so far, the

solved easier, and solutions can

first one is TU Clausthal, and the

be spotted sooner.

other is Universität Paderborn

Sometimes you have to be your

where I am studying right now

own hero. If you are ever left in a

trying to obtain an MSc in Inter-

desperate situation, don’t wait to

national Economics and Man-

be saved, because most likely it

agement. With Kiron's support,

will be too late.

I managed to obtain the IELTS

Step up and look for the solutions

certificate from the British coun-

yourself. If you have questions, go

cil in 2017, which allowed me to

and f ind the answers for them,

start my study at Universität Pa-

and while you’re doing that, find

derborn directly, by providing

someone who needs your help.

me with a semi-native speaker

Prepare for the worst, work for

to help me prepare for it. With-

the better and hope for the best.

out that, I would have had to

And if I can leave one impression

spend another year and a half to

about Syria for you through this

obtain the language certif icate.

article, let it be this one: we are

I also had to do a math exam at

people who love life if we manage

the university, and with the help

to find a way to reach it. —

of Thomas, the supervisor of the Business Department at Kiron, we found a MOOC to help me prepare for that exam. When I first started at university, I had a buddy who helped me with things, and now I have become a buddy to support new students coming to Paderborn

kiron student magazine

from all over the world, whether they are international students (thanks to ASV: Ausländische Studierende Vertretung) or exchange students (thanks to Eurobiz). I am also engaged in a marketing club and I used to be in another marketing club when I was in Göttingen.

»

 Sometimes you have to be your own hero. If you are ever left in a desperate situation, don’t wait to be saved, because most likely it will be too late. Step up and look for the solutions yourself. If you have questions, go and find the answers for them, and while you’re doing that, find someone who needs your help.«


growing together OCTOB ER 11, 2015, MEDITERRANEAN SEA.

A

s much as I try to avoid the memories of those harsh days I spent on my way to Europe, I keep remembering the day that I and the other five hundred people who were on the boat with me were rescued. After surviving all those miserable conditions, I just can’t explain the moment of seeing a rescue boat in the middle of the large mighty Mediterranean Sea. The boat belonged to the Doctors Without Borders organization (MSF), which I now call “Angels of the Sea”. After the rescue, every single one of the rescued ones was so exhausted and sick of their wretched journey but they were too happy to just sit and take a rest. Soon, the rescued people were being carried to the shores of Italy by the big MSF rescue ship and began to create a happy environment, through thankful prayers and songs. I chose a perfect spot where I could stand tall and take a good view of

23

ERITREA – GERMANY

the boundless sea like I was telling the cruel merciless sea that I have escaped from its big mouth. It's funny to remember it this way; a few hours earlier, it was dark and scary. My life, along with the others on the boat, had not been certain, and back then I didn't really dare to look at the sea surrounding me. However, after the rescue, I couldn't get enough of it. As I was standing on the very front corner of the big rescue ship I said a little prayer to myself. I was grateful to be alive and I felt full of hope. Straight away I found myself thinking of the future already. The dictatorial administration we have back home had taken away people's freedom and their opportunity for education, prosperity, and jobs. It created such fear, that people would not oppose anything the government imposed. Vast numbers of young and middle-aged Eritreans are obliged to serve under military service for an unlimited period of time with very little salary. That has frustrated the people and made them flee to the neighboring countries. I, like the tens of thousands of Eritreans who fled from Eritrea, was looking for a better life where I can live in peace and have the opportunity to choose the kind of life I want to live. I was the second generation of my family to be military trained. Both my grandfather and my father, including my uncles and even my mother, fought the war for independence against Ethiopia. The war ended in 1991 but again another war began in 1998, that made people's situation worse and the government established a dictatorship. I myself went to military training at the age of 17, after I finished 11th grade of high school. Your age, sex or even medical status doesn't matter at all. As long as you can get to the end of high school after 11th grade, you are obliged to have military training. And years later, I saw my younger brothers and sister go to the military at the ages of 16 and 17. Even though they were young and they did not want to go, they were forced to. All of us were forced to. I came to Germany in November 2015. I never really had planned to live in Germany before. I wanted to go to England because they speak English there. I was thinking in that way I wouldn't need to learn a new language. But things didn't go the way I hoped they would. Either way, I am alive, safe and happy. I arrived in Germany with my husband, with whom I traveled the whole journey. He was my one and only friend and relative in Germany and I am the same for him.

new beginnings

Siham


24 kiron student magazine

We had no close family members or even friends here. As the days went by, we managed to have two beautiful kids of our own and make a bunch of friends. Both my children are born in Germany. I make sure every day that they will grow up to be happy, confident, kind, and above all, I want them to be free to choose who and what they want to be. My husband and I were already in college back home. Still, we needed to adhere with German study procedures in order to distinguish our documents and to reach a comparable educational level which is required to either study or even work here in Germany. I discovered Kiron when I was pregnant with my second child and had to stay home. Right then I was looking for ways in which I could learn online, and as a result, I found Kiron. I am now taking computer science courses online through the Kiron platform. As a woman with kids, it's hard to pursue your dreams. It's a tiresome situation to be in. But I can already see and feel that it's worthwhile. Even with my husband and two kids here with me, I sometimes feel lonely and sad. I miss my family and friends that I left back home. I wish I could see my parents often or at least at Christmas or on my kids' birthdays. My children growing up without knowing their grandparents and cousins sickens me. It makes me wonder if we are all even living on the same planet? People often tell me that it's impossible to go and study while raising children or they even say that they are too old to go to university again. There are even days that I find myself hesitant and almost holding back – saying it's too late to start all over again from scratch or using the kids as an excuse to give up. One thing I know: I want my children to have a successful and fulfilling life - that doesn't come easily, they will need to work hard for it. And there will be no better example for them than their own parents. As my children grow older, I have decided that I will also educationally and emotionally grow.

We will grow together. When we grow together as a family, I believe it is growth for the community as well. In different ways, communities can grow, which leads to growth nationally. Just imagine: how tremendous that could be if all the nations stopped being selfish and started thinking about the really weak and poor victims. Instead of bombing, killing and sanctioning those who don't look like them or who don't agree with them, how nice would it be for the strong ones to just take the weak ones by the hand, listen to what they have to say and teach them what they know better. That, I assume, would somehow have to lead us all to peace and growth. My life experiences on various continents have made me think about and compare the different parts of the world. Things which are taken for granted in one part of the world are like daydreams in another part, and the difference goes on and on. I hope and wish for a better world where we all see our similarities so clearly and where our differences matter less, but most of all I hope for a world where humanity rules. So let's all grow together, after all, we are all from the same planet. —


Mohamed SUDAN – KENYA

I am Mohamed. I was born on the 10th of June,

1983 in Arara Administration Unit in the West Darfur region, in western Sudan, the most recent area defined as a genocide region. I completed primary school between 1992 and 1999 in Arara and completed secondary school in 2003, the year when the crisis exploded, but thankfully I managed to complete my secondary education. Unfortunately, I could not attend university because I found myself in the middle of the conflict between Arab Janjaweed militia and innocent black settlers in the Darfur region. When I fled f rom Arara in 2006, after witnessing and experiencing extreme violence, I ran through the Nuba mountain region where I spent almost six months in a camp, before the UN took me to Kenya by airplane on 31 December of 2006, where I registered as a refugee under the UNHCR in the Kakuma refugee camp. After reaching the camp, I faced another kind of hell, in that I did not know English or ily there to speak of. But I had hope that I could im-

25

the national language of Kiswahili, and I had no famprove my situation and attend some schools until I had learned English well enough and could get admitted to secondary school again. I discovered an interest in learning politics while trying to understand more about the world. I was just researching on the internet and following political science courses without having any formal admission from any institution. I applied for and was admitted to Regis University in the USA and in two years I have completed a diploma in business. Now that I have at least some qualif ication and some found at Kiron. I hope I will find a scholarship or another opportunity because my desire in this world is to hold a master’s degree in political science from a recognized university and work for the government or work for UNHCR in refugee protection. —

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skills, I am still looking for opportunities, which I


Shaema ETHIOPIA – YEMEN

I love sunsets. I watch the sun blossom like

kiron student magazine

26

a field of violets before curling up beneath the moon's shadow with a promise for a new bright tomorrow. This time, the new sunlight was brighter. The day I got accepted to study with Kiron was a life-changing moment. I had never thought my dreams would see the light. I always wanted to finish my education but never got the chance until now. I live in a war-torn country and trying to find a job as a refugee is very difficult. I take care of my family and I am the main breadwinner. So, my needs and desires were never a priority. Even though I struggle with finding an internet connection because we have no electricity, I am happier than ever.

»

 Kiron opened up opportunities for me to engage with other people like myself and from different parts of the world.«

Kiron opened up opportunities for me to engage with other people like myself and from different parts of the world. I used to be a very introverted person but through my participation in online programs and meetings, I began to come out of my shell and talk to people, which made me more confident. I got the chance to express my experiences and challenges that I had encountered and have a platform where I can just be myself. Moreover, I always dreamed of travelling the world and meeting people from different parts of the world, and now I get the chance to taste my dreams as I have built long-term friendships and relationships with people from different parts of the world through Kiron. Having a mindful conversation about life really warms my heart. I feel life has opened its arms for me and that is thanks to Kiron in Germany. I am empowered. I feel like I'm seeing color after only knowing black and white. I'm hearing my voice for the first time after being silenced, and it's the most beautiful sound I've ever heard. There are reasons for everything and what you hold on to may keep you from having what is next for you. And what is next is always better than where you get stuck. I believe that, please reflect on this. Whatever you have left after your storm, be grateful for, you didn't lose it all. Be grateful for what you have lost because you just made room for so many new things to bloom. —


It’s quite normal to notice old la-

Ali SYRIA – KYRGYZSTAN

dies on different spots of this street selling “kurut”, which is a snack f rom the nomad heritage of the region. Three hundred meters from this street you can find the biggest mosque in Bishkek. The harmony that Bishkek has achieved shows that there is a lot to learn from this region. I arrived exactly at the very start of the f irst event of the orientation week. Loud Russian pop songs were welcoming students

reconsidering borders

into the orientation week. Some students were dancing and others were sitting and chatting, but I was standing next to my huge suitcase, trying to grasp the different languages buzzing around of place. But that did not last long, everyone at AUCA was very help-

kek, Kyrgyzstan, I realized that a

ful and kind. At the end of the first

completely new and very unique

day, I made a few friends. At the

chapter of my life had started.

end of the f irst week, the AUCA

Looking around, I was failing to

spirit started tickling my soul and

comprehend the true nature of

in no time Central Asia started be-

this place, but that only made me

coming my new home. My days

more excited. I mumbled the few

at AUCA are passing while I am

words I knew in Russian and the

attending different classes, vis-

taxi driver agreed to drive me to

iting new places, reading excit-

the American University of Cen-

ing books, meeting interesting

tral Asia (AUCA). This ride was my

people and doing a lot of hiking.

first tour of the city.

The nature in this country is sim-

The city does not try to hide the

ply breathtaking. Fabulous green

spectacular clashes of cultures

meadows spread over the tops

and history in this region. Bish-

of proudly high mountains is an

kek's post-Soviet heritage domi-

everyday scene here.

nates the architecture. However,

That is not everything, this re-

Islamic culture, as well as nomad-

gion always finds a way to amaze

ic ones, add a distinguishable fra-

me. Right after the warm season,

grance to the city design and the

winter starts. There is not much

street names, which makes this

of a middle ground between

place magical.

the harsh summer and the Bish-

The World War Two memorial and

kek winter. Contrary to the Mid-

the ballet theater are connected

dle East, where I come from, the

by a street called Abdrahmanov,

winter here is quite tough. Bish-

which is an Islamic name with a

kek turns into its white outfit for

Russian ending.

about 4 months.

27

he moment I left Manas International Airport in Bish-

new beginnings

T

me. For a few moments, I felt out


Snow covers every part of the city and temperatures drops as low as -30°C (-22°F). When I saw parents bringing their children to school on skates, I started to realize how acquainted people are with this weather. People’s ability to function on the different edges of extremes helps me to see the big picture of the post-Soviet Islamic Nomadic community of Bishkek. After many wonderful experiences of the hospitality in this region, I figured that I should start paying back for their generosity. In the summer of 2018, I worked as an intern at Search for Common Ground which is an international organization that has an office in Bishkek. In this internship, I helped a group of academic researchers conduct their work on building a de-radicalization campaign in Central Asia. This experience did not only help me improve my academic research skills but also enriched my knowledge on the history and social structures of the region. It was also a first-hand introduction into the framework of international organizations. This opportunity allowed me to apply my knowledge from Syria, what I learned at Kiron and what Central Asia taught me in one project. Jumping on and off the edges of opposite weather conditions and different cultures was a great exercise for my current project. This project requires a lot of flexibility and being able to look at things from unusual perspectives. We called it the “Med Research Team” and it helps international researchers to gather medical field data 28

and samples from Syria through medical students from different cities. This project does not only allow foreign scholars to receive important field data from Syria, but it also provides Syrian students with access to databases and training in academic research. Kiron, AUCA and Central Asia taught me how to reconsider state borders and cultural boundaries and even how to use them for the advantage of project

kiron student magazine

initiation and development. —


My name is Somar, I’m 24 years old and I'm from Damascus in

Syria. I came to Germany in August 2015, where my dreams started to become true! I had the chance to rent a room from a German guest family, where I learned a lot about German culture and the German language. In Damascus, I had studied economics for four semesters, but in Germany I found my passion for computer science, and I set it as a goal for myself for the next three years. Joining Kiron made it easier for me to get the chance to do online courses which helped me a lot, alongside the support they gave me while learning the German language. I now live in Bonn, one of the nicest cities in Germany, especially in the springtime. I live in a big house with eight other people who are students and workers. We have an international apartment with people from France, Germany, and Syria living here. I learned that sharing is caring! We share housework, cooking and we also party together at the weekend. I will start studying in October at Bonn University, which is like a dream come true for me, especially with the difficulty of learning German and proving to myself that I have made it. I played American football in Bonn for one year but I had to quit because it was really dangerous and I got a small injury, but it is still my favorite sport to play and to watch. I’m working now in a small company which specialises in network infrastructure.

29

SYRIA – GERMANY

We give support for hospitals and pharmacies in networking and medical programs, and I’m so proud to work in a place where I get the chance to learn a lot about IT and help patients in Germany by making it easier for doctors and nurses to use medical programs. I feel at home here now and I have made a lot of friends and meet a lot of nice people, and I feel thankful for the chances that I get to structure my future very well. Now, my journey will start at university. It won't be easy but it will be the most important period of my life and the time where I can hopefully prepare myself for a bright and successful future. I believe I have a good chance in achieving all of my dreams, beginning with learning Spanish and finishing a master's degree in computer science, and possibly even a Ph.D. after that. I want to prove that I can create change for my society and the people around me, and I want to deliver the message that everyone can do this if he or she is truly prepared to accept failure and stressful situations. Try not to be arrogant but have the self-confidence to believe you can achieve it all! You will find that the world opens up to you. Now that I have the chance to write this, I want to thank Kiron for supporting me, and I want to thank the people who helped me in Germany to get me to the point where I feel at home, and in a position where I can depend on myself and live in a community where people exchange help, love, and care. —

new beginnings

Somar


Andrew NIGERIA – NIGERIA

I

n Nigeria, there are not many jobs available. Many people are

suffering from this problem and it has affected them a lot. This has

30

made unemployment the deal of

Family life has also been positive

the day. Work is very important

in people’s lives, with some fami-

in this country, as it is the only

lies encouraging their children to

way one can survive because the

get an education, along with oth-

economy is not healthy, which

er advice, such as establishing a

has resulted in so many people

small scale business for instance.

moving into crime.

The Igbo culture believes more in

Study, on the other hand, is an-

business than education.

other important thing. One has to

Apart f rom f riends who have re-

study in order to get a trading job

ally been my backbone all these

in this part of the world.

years, family and the workplace

And most of the time, even after

have been nothing to write home

study, one still f inds it very dif-

about. This is because of my dis-

f icult to get a job. Education is

ability: they don’t think that I can

of great importance in the lives

make it. Friends have helped f i-

of some of the youth. As most of

nancially, but my family is not

them who are educated do not

supportive and always discourag-

even bother getting involved in

es me. The workplace, on the oth-

crime but instead take control of

er hand, is very difficult for me be-

their acquisition of knowledge.

cause nobody wants to employ a

new beginnings

disabled person in Nigeria. As a student, I engage in two online reaction-time tests. I track my progress, taking note of any strategies that help me improve my performance. This lesson takes a small step toward the

kiron student magazine

broader learning goal described above; it encourages me to think about my learning and illustrates that skills, when practiced, can become automatic. —


Fahad SYRIA – TURKEY

new beginnings

by illegal routes. There, I found myself in a new society, a new culture, and immersed in another language I didn’t know anything about. The challenge was how I was going to coexist and integrate into the new society. I went to Istanbul and I started looking for a job on the third day. It was not easy; in fact, it was very embarrassing because I had zero skills in the Turkish language and I was communicating with people with hand signals and translator apps. Some people didn’t even look at my face. I was very sad but I kept trying to look for a job repairing cars because this is what I can do. Actually, I’m proficient in repairing cars and a professional in painting cars. While I was out looking, someone finally attempted to listen to me and tried to understand me while I explained to him – through movements and signals – that this is what I can do well. He was a good man. I started to work and now I have a job. It was a good step for me. I began to integrate into society and learn Turkish slowly and because I know what I have to do in my work, the language is not a problem now. The result of this is great, as I live with my Turkish neighbors like a family. We eat together, live together and when I come back from work, food is ready on my table. The head of the family is a retired policeman. I cannot describe my feelings towards them, I love them very, very much. Because of the financial burden on me, I had to work long hours – 13 hours every day, without interruption, for one and a half years. That resulted in me having to go to the hospital because I had trouble breathing caused by the poor working conditions. I was treated for about 8 months and then I began to think about my future carefully. I had studied accounting in Syria but that didn’t help me. At that time, under extreme conditions in the search for a better future, I was

31

My story of immigration begins with crossing the Turkish border


32 kiron student magazine

browsing Facebook and I remember most of the topics were about university admissions. That was the future I dreamed of. I read a post about Kiron and I’m very blessed. Studying at Kiron is a wonderful opportunity. It created a new challenge for me. I began to study mechanical engineering last year, and it was very difficult because I had to learn two new languages at once: Turkish and English. Trying to understand physics in another language that I felt like I knew so little of was hard, while I continued with my work. But I think I have taken a step forward. I’m not successful yet but I’m trying to be successful. Sometimes I feel frustrated because of the many pressures that face me, but there is something inside me that says, keep going. This year, I began reviewing everything I have learned, and I hope that this will be quite different from the previous year. I have some experience in providing educational support to people who need it, in fact. My two brothers and some friends set up an institute for teaching secondary and preparatory diplomas in Eastern Ghouta, at our own expense. While I was in Turkey and the rest of the team in Eastern Ghouta, we began offering education for young people, especially women and girls. This is because we believe that women are the nucleus of a civilized society because they are the first and most important source of child rearing. After forced displacement from Eastern Ghouta to Northern Syria, many women and young people are getting diplomas from universities in Northern Syria and some of them have begun to study for the foreign students' examination in Turkey or the SATs and maybe some of them will study at Kiron. When my brothers tell me the details of how it's going at the institute and describe to me the faces of the women and young people, they describe people with eyes full of challenge and hope of changing their lives for the better. We have a feeling of happiness that I cannot describe, it was one of the nicest experiences in my life. —

»

 The result of this is great, as I live with my Turkish neighbors like a family. We eat together, live together and when I come back from work, food is ready on my table. (…) I cannot describe my feelings towards them, I love them very, very much.«


Ehab

33

SYRIA – GERMANY

Hello, my name is Ehab. I am 26 years old and come from Homs,

Syria. I have a technical diploma in mechanical en-

gineering. I was a former student at Kiron, where I studied political science. I transferred from Kiron to Bard College, Berlin, where I now study economics, politics, and social thought. Photography has been my hobby since 2007; it gives me absolute freedom and makes me happy. It is a life, work, and study. This hobby has taught me to see the world differently and to love the details in every place I visit. It helps me to see my surroundings better and I am always looking for that special snapshot that can be added to my archive.

new beginnings

refuge for me and helps me escape the stresses of


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34


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35


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36


new beginnings

37


kiron student magazine

—

38


Hosam SYRIA – TURKEY

»

 I was so delighted when I received the message that informed me that I have become a social work student at Kiron. It was a spectacular feeling that I cannot describe in words.«

39

I made this decisive decision. It was about three years ago. I decided to move on to Turkey in order to go to Europe. It was so difficult for me to leave my hometown, friends, work, mum and siblings. When I arrived in Turkey, I went to Turkish Cyprus as planned in order to go to Greek Cyprus which was the main gate to Europe. Unfortunately, the police at the airport in Turkish Cyprus prevented me from leaving the airport because they found a Greek number on my phone and going to Europe at that time was not allowed according to the agreement between the Turkish government and European Union. So they returned me back to Adana, Turkey. When I came back to Turkey, I was extremely sad because I could not go to Europe and I did not speak Turkish and I had to speak English, which made things difficult. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to live on a private campus with Turkish students. It was so useful for me to learn and improve my Turkish language quickly.

new beginnings

I will never forget the moment when

My Turkish friends were friendly and helped me to improve my Turkish language a lot. Moving on to my experience with Kiron Open Higher Education, I was so delighted when I received the message that informed me that I have become a social work student at Kiron. It was a spectacular feeling that I cannot describe in words. The lessons at Kiron organization are in English, so I had to learn English but at that time I was devoting my time to learning Turkish. So I made a plan to learn English after finishing learning Turkish, in order to be able to study at Kiron. I have benefited from the language school at Kiron. While I was learning English, I had a great chance to take part in Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange via the OBF program. It was my first online experience and I was so afraid of participating because my English level was intermediate but I decided to take part because it concentrated on the most important subjects for refugees that I was interested in. I passed it with considerable success and I am going to participate in the Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange: Newcomers and Nationalism course this autumn. I am planning also to learn German as soon as I finish learning English. In conclusion, I want to thank Kiron for everything they have done for me and for all their students, too. —


Farid AFGHANISTAN – USA

» ‘H

ome is where you build it’. Many folks believe in that statement, and so do I. At the age of 14,

when I left Ghazni Province, my hometown, I never

thought that I would call anywhere else home. How-

 Everyone has a different American Dream here; mine is to attend higher education, find a career and reunite with my family. It is a long journey, but not impossible.«

ever, after living in the United States for a year, I built a roof over my head; a place that I can call home. I lived in limbo for almost three years in Indonesia, or as I refer to it: ‘the green hell’. Green hell because it is such a discombobulated life. A lifestyle you would

40

never choose to have. I was in ninth grade when I left Afghanistan, but in Indonesia I was not able to

at The Mockingbird Society™ as

attend school. Thankfully, I was able to use technol-

a network representative. With

ogy and the internet as a beneficial tool for my ed-

working two jobs and studying

ucation. I was accepted by Kiron and studied politi-

at the same time, I started think-

cal science sometimes; sometimes because I did not

ing that life can be very hard but

have a laptop of my own and would borrow friends’

in the end very joyful. I was able

laptops when they were around.

to get a car and lease an apart-

In June 2017, I was lucky enough to be resettled to

ment, which I live in currently. It

the United States and reside in Seattle, Washing-

has been more than 4 years that

ton. The following Fall, I was enrolled at Juanita High

I have not seen my family. Except

School in ninth grade even though I was 17 years old

for missing them, life has treated

at the time. I was frustrated because it was project-

me fine here. I am working hard

ed that I would graduate on my 21st birthday. I want-

to make my American Dream

ed to graduate faster, I had missed enough time al-

come true. Everyone has a differ-

ready and I didn’t want to miss any more. After re-

ent American Dream here; mine

search, I was able to find a program at Bellevue Col-

is to attend higher education, find

lege, a program which after completion would give

a career and reunite with my fam-

me an Associate degree and a High School diploma

ily. It is a long journey, but not im-

at the same time. I could save two years, and I did not

possible. —

waste a minute and applied to the program and was accepted. Now, I am enrolled at a career education program at Bellevue College.

kiron student magazine

Besides school, I started working as a server at Kabul Afghan Cuisine, an Afghan restaurant in Seat-

you know, I am fine here

tle, where I still work. I was able to get another job


Saeed PAKISTAN – GERMANY

from zero to kiron

new beginnings

y story begins almost two years ago, when I thought that I wouldn’t be able to study in Germany. My language skills created a hurdle in getting a job. When I saw the working standard in Germany, I realised that in my field of business and economics, both German and English must be perfect. I was very stressed until one of my friends told me about Kiron. I felt that this was the thing I had been searching for, for almost five years. So far I have finished sixteen courses in business and economics, two German language courses as well as one in English. Additionally, I have a mentor, and Kiron provides me with free smartphone apps to learn German and English. The mentorship programme is really an excellent programme, where you get to talk to an experienced professional who can help you to solve your problems, guide you and give you advice about your studies and career. Time management is very necessary to get the most from Kiron’s services. Since all of the courses and learning materials are online from Kiron, it means it is easy to study when and where you want. Mostly I use my smartphone to take my courses. It not only saves me time but also gives me the feeling that I am not wasting my time. —

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M


Ibrahim SOMALIA – KENYA

»

 A burning desire is the starting point of all accomplishment.«

My name is Ibrahim, I’m aged 22 years old and I live in the

Dadaab Refugee camp in Kenya, in the North East-

ern Province. I came to this camp on foot in 2007 42

during the election of Mwai Kibaki. I finished both my primary and secondary level of education in 2011 and 2016 respectively. My parents were pastoralists, so when all animals died due to civil war, drought, and famine, I decided to leave that place and go where life can be better. I was 12 years old at that time. That’s how it is that I came to the refugee camp. I did not have a single penny for transportation but then I met some people who were walking to the ref-

kiron student magazine

ugees in the camp. It took us 22 days from Salagle to Ifo refugee camp, where scarcity of food is the order of the day. We do eat the green leaves and fruits which are not man-made. I live without parental care and support and I struggle a bit. A burning desire is the starting point of all accomplishment. Just like a small fire can not give much heat, a weak desire cannot produce great results. —


Mahmud SYRIA – TURKEY

don’t give up

in international journals and conferences; one of them in the USA. I also got Turkish citizenship, I have visited more than fourteen cities in Turkey, and I have met four Turkish high-ranking politicians and many important people. I have also been learning Spanish and getting more than fifteen different certificates by participating in many courses and training. Moreover, I have now held a job contract with the Turkish Health Ministry for two years. Finally, I will not forget to tell you that I got an open learning MicroMaster scholarship in Massachusetts Institute of Technology alongside having a chance to study with Kiron Open Higher Education. I'm so proud of myself in these three years and I can call all of these achievements “new beginnings” in my life. However, that's still not enough for me and I will stay working to develop myself and improve my skills to achieve all the goals that I set for myself since I was a child. —

new beginnings

can't forget the moment that I made the decision to leave my studies in Syria, my family, and my hometown and travel to Turkey after getting a master's degree scholarship there. I thought I made the wrong choice at the time because it would be hard to start again and learn a new language, as well as having to meet new people. Now, I'm so grateful for taking that decision. It was the moment that made my life change and drove me to continue to achieve what I wanted. It's simple what I have achieved until now as a young man. I can tell you that I couldn't have done all of that if I had stayed in Syria. I'm sure you are curious about what I did just in three years. For starters, one of the most important achievements was getting a master's degree from one of the best universities in Turkey, learning the Turkish language, improving my English language through taking many courses and meeting American, Australian and British friends, publishing three articles

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I


Osagie NIGERIA – UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA

T

o briefly summarise my life in Tanzania. I love the food,

the atmosphere, and its natural beauty. I am happy to meet new friends and to understand a little bit of Swahili and be able to push

my life further through the Kiron platform. My hope is that tomorrow will be better despite my current challenges and difficulties in life. With my study plan and the opportunity to be creative and 44

gain employment, I feel it will help me to brighten my future. I can feel it and sense that the future holds something better for me. —

kiron student magazine

a new world


Abdifeisal

a humble beginning

M

y name is Abdifeisal. I am Somali by nationality. I live with my mother in the Dadaab refugee camp, a camp located in the north-eastern province of Kenya. I came to the refugee camp in 1994 as a little child. I had strayed from my parents in Somalia when the civil war intensified and the sound of gunshots was the order of the day. I fled to the border of Kenya, accompanying other families who identified me as the son of Budul, and as a panic-stricken boy who had lost his direction. We reached Dhobley town at the border of Somalia and Kenya and later moved into the camps nearby. Ten days after arriving in Ifo camp, the people I came with heard that my maternal aunt lived in the camp. Upon finding her, they moved me to her home. She was my aunt but I was not familiar with her at that point. After adapting to the refugee situation, I asked my aunt to take me to school but she hesitated to do so because I was involved with many domestic chores.

new beginnings

A TRUE STORY

I fetched water from a tap far away, I washed utensils and clothes and frequently collected firewood from the bush. The daughters of my aunt were hard on me and scolded me for even the slightest error. They considered me a good-for-nothing. In my mind I always had a dream; to go to school and learn. Whenever I was going to the water tap, on the way I picked any paper that had writing on it because I had the urge to read - tears of memory fill my eyes as I write this. I was always close to the neighbors’ children and learnt from them how to read and write the English alphabet. After several months of sleepless nights and dreams yearning for education, I was taken to school in September 1995 which was the third term according to the school calendar. My eyes were bright with euphoria and excitement as I approached the school gate. Unfortunately, two months later we had to sit for the end-of-year exams, which determined whether we were promoted to the next level. The first mathematics question still lingers in my mind like a drum beat. It was ten multiplied by ten. I did not understand how to solve that question. I asked a classmate to tell me the answer. He told me to take ten stones and another ten stones on the other side, hit each stone on the other, and then count the number of particles to get the answer. It was a really shocking answer and I was dumbfounded by this. I imagined the answer to be eighty three stones. Unsurprisingly, I failed that exam and I had to repeat that class the following year. Other friends of mine who had also failed the exam were immediately stigmatized as failures and we even had a separate class. I saw the challenge as an opportunity. Classes were so overcrowded and I remember in January 1996, I was registered as number 135 in class 1A. I began getting serious about school work. When the results for first term exams came out, I was number thirteen in my class. In the second term, I was number two, and by the third term, I was in the first position. I maintained the top position up until class eight.

45

SOMALIA – KENYA


46 kiron student magazine

My mother arrived in the camps in 1999, and I was somewhat better than before. I joined Ifo Secondary School in 2004 and finished in 2007. The last two years of my secondary education were the most challenging and painful moments for me. I lacked all essential resources and the hardship at home was intense. I had a meal once every 24 hours. Besides that, the school was one and a half kilometres away from home and I had to go back and forth throughout the day. When I came to form four, students formed study groups and contributed money each month so that they could buy revision books. I was not included in any group because I could not afford to contribute KSH 100 each month. I fell into despair because I felt like my hands were tied. I began to truant from school because I feared getting stigmatised and I always snuck out after the midday break because I lacked the morale. In the end, I finished my secondary education in 2007 and attained a mean score of C. I could not get a scholarship for the World University Service of Canada, which was available for better performing students. It is excruciating to mention that the very students who I had outperformed academically some years back, did better than I did. They were never as bright as me but they had more learning opportunities, such as access to tuition fees and moral support. I was employed in 2008 as a primary school teacher and I took teacher training courses. I became a sharp teacher who was admired by my students. I am still a teacher at Ifo camp and I feel proud to mention that some of the pupils I taught in class are now working alongside me as teachers today. I would like to conclude my story with the following poem which highlights the importance of education.

The Passport To Success Education Education Education, The undeniable importance, The self enlightening process, The truck to career progression, We need to seek for that. It helps build our personality, Lays foundation for a stronger nation, The basis for civilization, The best catalyst for change, We need to seek for that. The key to golden opportunities, The best investment to humanity, The tool that will lead us ahead, The rope to greater heights, We need to seek for that. We can alter our life through education, Through hard work and commitment, Honesty hope and patience, For overall human development We need to seek for that. —


Radwan SYRIA – POLAND

who ran away to save their lives and the lives of their children. The

Polish a little bit, but I am still

hard truth was that it was not my

learning f rom my girlf riend and

problem until I felt the same, un-

my daughter.

til I saw the same, and until I lost

Most of you learn f rom the me-

people in the same way.

dia that Syria and Syrians mean

My father is a doctor and my

bombs, trouble, and Islam, but to-

mother is a teacher, I grew up in

day I am going to tell you about

an educated family, they taught

me, a Syrian refugee.

me to be a good person. They love

My life before the war was sim-

me as your family loves every one

ple, like any one of you: family,

of you. My two sisters and one

sport, travel and living in peace.

brother are everything to me: I

For example, I saw refugees

had the best childhood with them

in my country f rom Pales-

playing games, studying together

tine, Lebanon, and Iraq.

or helping each other with home-

I saw people with-

work or even when we fought

out homes, people

with each other. My childhood memories are the best memories of this life that I could ever have.

47

also a refugee in Poland. I speak

My life there was simple and the only problem was if at home they cooked some kind of food I didn’t like. I was fat and I loved, and still love, to eat. Our swimming pool at home was the best place to swim, especially after having lunch in the summer because it’s so hot there, and always my family told me not to swim after lunch directly because it’s not healthy, and that I would become dark f rom the sun, but I did not care, it was too hot. But since I began living in Poland, I have started to miss these hot days in Syria. The truth is this sun

new beginnings

My name is Radwan, I am a Syrian filmmaker and


is fake here, it doesn't warm your body; it just makes

to become part of Polish society,

you as pale as a lamb. But now… because of this war…

even with learning the language.

everything is changed.

Do you know where the refugee

I lost my Mom about 10 years ago. My father is alone

camp is in Poland? It’s in the mid-

and he is helping civilians. Our home was burnt

dle of the forest, and I am not

down and it is empty of life. My brother is a refugee in

sure if there are animals even liv-

Germany, and we cannot live together.

ing there. How do you want refu-

My sisters are in Syria with their husbands. One is

gees to feel there without being

working for the free army and the other is working

able to meet and contact Polish

for the Syrian/State/Regime's army.

people? They enter a new country

Yes, we are f rom a country at war, but we cannot

and they don’t even know what

change the world and the way of the media. We try

this country is like, they are isolat-

to start from zero alone by ourselves like heroes. I

ed from everyone. And the media

had a life like your life: playing, studying, falling in

just repeats the same story that

love, playing sport – but it has all changed. You know,

refugees are dangerous.

I miss my friends and for sure they are now in a bet-

Do you think I am a bad person

ter place far from this war and this life.

who wants to bomb Poland or do

Some of my other f riends left the country like my

you think I am a good person who

brother, while the others are either fighting with the

is fighting for his life?

army or against the army. The war made us play with

I wish peace for all the world and

weapons more than with footballs. I miss visiting my

the best for everyone. I hope that

uncles. I had seven of them but four were killed by

I was able to change some of your

Al-Qaida, the last one just about a month ago. He left

thinking about Syrians.

behind three daughters and one son.

Don’t believe everything you are

Our world is in danger when we see a generation

told in the media, trust the peo-

f rom 2011 until 2017 without schools. But they are

ple you meet and learn from your

still children and even if there is nothing, they are

own experience. —

still looking for fun. These people, they had the same life as you have it: family, friends, homes, and food. And now, I have a new family in Poland, too. My daughter is one of the Polish-Syrian people here, her 48

name is Lucia, and she is one year old. I want her to live in peace and teach her the good things which my family taught me. I want her to have a good education, like you have. I want her to love every person no matter where he is from or if he is a refugee or a disabled person. I came here to tell you my story and you can do with this information whatever you feel. Each of you has opinions about refugees. But how many refugees do you know? Maybe I am the first one who is talking

kiron student magazine

to you. I work so hard for my daughter. I work seven days a week, 8 hours minimum in a café and in a lunch bar too. I am paying taxes, but I cannot work in films or media because I am a Syrian and a refugee who does not speak Polish fluently. On account of my refugee status and certain countries attitudes towards Syrians, I was not able to finish my film studies and cannot complete them here. The Polish government has given me legal stay but there is no help


Pierre

no idea what was waiting for me ahead. At the age of two, I became a refugee for the first time in a foreign land; that was the start of a “new beginning”. Since then life has never been the same. At the age of four in 1996 I was separated from my parents and lost in the center of a battlefield in Congo’s Walekare forest. I had to learn to survive on my own. A year later, I was rescued by the Red Cross and taken to a children’s home in Goma. The struggle of survival in the middle of gunfire, hunger and coming face to face with wild animals is nothing but something to forget. After receiving medical attention, I got the opportunity to return to what was then my home country where I stayed up until 2007, when I had to flee again for the second time. I was only two steps away from completing high school at the

new beginnings

When I was born in 1992, I had

time I fled to Kenya for safety. From 2007, Nairobi became my new city and I became a refugee for the second time in a row. But this time around I was at least 15 years of age, injured and traumatized but lucky to be alive. My education had been cut short again; I had to rebuild my academic hope and by the grace of God I managed to complete high school here in Kenya when I lived as a refugee. To achieve this I had to work and study at the same time in a foreign land without a place to call home. The memories of torture, regional instability and a crackdown on refugees made my life so difficult. I endured pain both seen and unseen and here came a new beginning once again. While in the new country, for a period of eleven years now, I have been surviving by teaching French, English, computer skills and maths lessons in both primary and high schools. When we flee as refugees, we flee with nothing but our mind. Throughout my life as a refugee like any other, I have passed through difficulties to be able to access education. I cannot wish to see any human being go through what I went through; I had to do something about it. It was in early 2013 when I managed to start a computer training college (Divine Computer College) for the host community in my new country. Since then the college has been offering the community basic ICT services and computer training skills. Since its opening, the college has trained more than 270 youths and released them into the job market. It was hard but it had to be done, I had seen many people, some of my age, struggling and suffering to access education. I couldn’t sit and watch, someone somewhere had to do something about it. In my mind, the desire for education grows day after day; I believe it is through access to education that we can find solutions to challenges facing humanity and make this world a better place for everyone. Even though I am a refugee, I still wanted to join university and upgrade my education so that I am able to serve the society better in the days to come and be part of the solution. I tried in vain to join a Kenyan University here in exile but that was cut short due to lack of school fees and sponsorship. To revive my education dreams, I had to find a tuition-free institution. When I applied, Kiron came to my rescue

49

RWANDA – KENYA


and gave me hope that regardless of my refugee status, my educational goals are still valid and achievable. A new beginning again, this time as a Kiron student. Here came a new beginning at Kiron. My life changed when I joined Kiron In 2017. Earlier, for my entire life as a refugee, all I knew was rejection. But this changed when I enrolled onto the Kiron online campus: I felt accepted and for the first time I found a community where I felt I belonged. To me Kiron isn’t just a school; it is a family, a family of all of us. It is not good to be stateless, to be called a refugee but sometimes we have to accept our fate and move on, look forward, think positively and dream big like any other human being. My first lecturer at Kiron was Nick Parlante from Stanford introducing me to CS101; it was a good feeling to see myself reviving my university education through an opportunity granted to me by Kiron. It touched my heart and mind. The Kiron student support, lecturers, staff and Kiron forum are just the best. I always thank God for them.

kiron student magazine

50

»

 When we flee as refugees, we flee with nothing but our mind.«

As refugees, we are displaced all over the world due to war, among other reasons; for a significant time, our lives are characterized by the struggle to keep breathing. At some point, we feel neglected and abandoned. But wait, Kiron gave us a chance to meet again at one point and access the most valuable asset in life: “education”. For me, that restored my hope. As a refugee in a new country, life has taught me many lessons, one of these lessons is that a family isn’t just blood, it is people who accept you and appreciate you the way you are regardless of the situation you are in. That is what Kiron is to me. At Kiron, a new life and journey began, a journey of hope and vision, a journey of restoration of my educational ambitions, a journey to pursue a Bachelor of Science in computer science, a rare chance for a helpless refugee like me, a new beginning has just begun. My future dream is that when I complete my course at Kiron, I will offer myself as a volunteer to humanitarian organizations and refugee camps so that I can serve the less fortunate and save lives the same way mine was saved. Finally, after all is said and done, all that will really matter is how we treat each other. At Kiron online campus, I feel at home. A billion thanks to Kiron online campus for granting us an opportunity to access education again and a million thanks to Kiron Magazine for granting us a platform to share our stories and new beginnings. —


Samah SYRIA – GERMANY

the cold drops dribbled on my lap.

 Frankly speaking, the world I know has dramatically changed and it is hard to keep my head above water. I feel like Alice in Wonderland facing the flood of information. Like a thirsty person in a desert, I have done course after course to sharpen my digital information skills.«

less nights and my confused head didn’t encourage my students to discuss the “Judgement Day” issue on the next day. On the contrary, they listened attentively to me lecturing over their heads about why we should forgive ourselves and be humble and moral! That moment unlocked something special in me. I stopped reading novels and abandoned Bob Dylan and John braries in Damascus could sup-

ment, I was watching the

ply me with any computer sci-

New Year’s Eve countdown in De-

ence books, so I didn’t even re-

cember 1999. The TV talk shows

ally know what to do with a flop-

made me think – like many other

py disc. I saw the lack of data and

people around – that the end of

data-driven academic material

the world as we knew it, was ap-

as a challenge, and I had count-

proaching fast.

less “aha” moments. Not to men-

I began praying profoundly for

tion, that I have more than two

safety when the evening news

decades of being a teacher. I am

screened the storm that had hit

a 55-year-old-Kiron student in

Italy, Spain, and France.

the age of Internet and MOOCs –

A wave of worry overwhelmed me

Massive Open On-line Courses.

concerning the storm’s victims

Frankly speaking, the world

just a few days before the sup-

I know has dramatically

posed ‘Judgement Day’. The se-

changed and it is hard to keep

rious, strict way of delivering the

my head above water. I feel

news in Syria added more fear to

like Alice in Wonderland fac-

the already numerous religious

ing the flood of information.

interpretations about what might

Like a thirsty person in a de-

happen at that moment. Let me

sert, I have done course after

admit that even Julia Roberts’

course to sharpen my digital

smile in Pretty Woman could not

information skills. —

warm my cold feet after watching a detailed documentary about Halley’s Comet. Just imagining the huge tail of the comet and its impact on Mother Earth stiffened my fingers around my hot mint tea, waking up only when

generation x?

51

W

Lennon cassettes. None of the liith more panic than excite-

new beginnings

»

My eyes were red from the sleep-


Ranin IRAQ – IRAQ

I

kiron student magazine

52

be positive

»

am Ranin from Iraq, a girl in my twenties. It was my dream to complete my studies and work and be successful in my life but my life has changed so much. I was sad about my situation but I did not give up. I used my time to learn new things, for example drawing on paper and glass. I became a positive person. I volunteered with humanitarian organizations with children. I tried to forget that I ran away and lost my home. I smile with the children and play and laugh. I worked with them because they are innocent and what happened with them was not their fault so I wanted to change their psychology and remove pressure from them. We drew and played intelligent games together and to see their enthusiasm was really amazing to me. When a child arrived broken and sad and by the end of the course is brave and cheerful, I felt that I had done a great thing. We were not just a coach and a student, but friends. I learned how to deal with the children and pay attention to them. I also knew wonderful people from all sects and places. We were a family and a united team. We are still in touch and have participated in many workshops together. Since we are all displaced but we have lived amongst different sects and nationalities, I advise you today to be positive and search for your strengths. I study, learn to drive cars, read human development books, and I still draw and have an interest in volunteering because the development of yourself is the beginning of your success. —

 I study, learn to drive cars, read human development books, and I still draw and have an interest in volunteering because the development of yourself is the beginning of your success.«


new beginnings

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kiron student magazine

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COUNTRY OF ORIGIN – COUNTRY OF RESIDENCE


Profile for KIRON_NGO

Kiron student magazine #2