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“I can finally start to build my future”

Wafaa is one of 3,000 refugees in Germany who got access to quality higher education online through our project with Kiron Open Higher Education. For refugees arriving in a new country, the process of seeking asylum can take years, a time where most can’t do anything but wait. They can’t work, study or start building new lives in their new country. And even though many are motivated to continue or begin their education, they are hindered by things like asylum processes, language barriers, missing legal documents or financing. Kiron offers the opportunity to start studying irrespective of location or asylum status.

Wafaa grew up in Damascus, in Syria and remembers her father’s cafe to be at the centre of the hustle and bustle of Damascus. “It was very popular, everyone loved playing backgammon, drinking tea together and watching people pass by,” she says.

That all came to a halt suddenly when the war started, and Wafaa and her family fled Syria; first landing in Jordan before making it to Munich in October 2015. Like so many others, Wafaa and her family had to make the treacherous journey across Turkey and Greece, and through the Balkans and Austria, before finally landing in Germany. Wafaa says she was so tired when she arrived, she was barely able to grab a first impression, but she says she was happy.

Things began to look up for Wafaa when her family started to settle into German life and when she discovered Kiron, she could truly tap into her potential again. Wafaa says that the Kiron community was key to her success.

“I improved my intercultural experiences. Suddenly, I had friends from other nationalities and I learned that there is not only one plan in the world and not just one perspective. I learned that there are many catastrophes in the world – and that I am not the only one! With gaining such new perspectives and learning about others, I changed my goals, my intellect and my personality.”

Thanks to the multidisciplinary approach of the project, Wafaa says that she had more of the chance to gain new knowledge about other fields, which would not have been possible if she was confined to meeting people in her own academic track of Business Administration.

“My friends and other students at Kiron study in different fields, this again helps us all to exchange thoughts and engage in interdisciplinary discussions – always learning more together and gaining new insights.”

Now, I can finally appreciate myself again, rebuild my self-confidence and truly start to build my future.

Wafaa, Krion Open Higher Education student in Germany

Now Wafaa is a fully matriculated student at the University Duisburg-Essen and she says that she has gained a new identity. “I feel like one of them –  a real student. Now, I can finally appreciate myself again, rebuild my self-confidence and truly start to build my future.”

She now dreams of being a film director and running her own production company. “In Germany, I have learned that everyone is allowed to believe and think for him or herself and that it is possible to have a culture where everyone respects each other. But without education there is no civilization. Education is the key to change!”