Basic IT student delivers speech at graduation

From Refugee to IT Graduate: A WorkWell Update

“Hello everyone.”

Eyad stood on stage and faced a room full of classmates, teachers, and invited guests. Everyone was gathered at the event hall of a beautiful hotel to celebrate graduation day.

“Today I speak to you as [a] graduate from the basic IT course. It’s my pleasure to welcome guests, managers, and our teachers. I would like to thank each of you for all you have brought to us. We gather today to celebrate what did [we] through the last two months, because each of us reached the goal, maybe, to help him to get new skills or develop their experiences.”

Students Investing in Their Futures

WorkWell is our program for helping Syrian refugees and Iraqis affected by war learn tech skills and access the online job market. Two of our WorkWell campuses recently wrapped up courses in basic IT and English. The students start each cycle with a fairly wide range of knowledge and abilities, and it’s wonderful to watch how that impacts each class.

We regularly find students giving up their breaks throughout the day to help each other master material taught in class. Many students are as invested in their classmate’s success as they are their own.

As part of their English curriculum, every student makes a presentation to their class about a topic of their choice. They cover a wide range of subjects from favorite foods, to laughter, and even a rap song written to help fellow students conjugate verbs!

Photos by Jena Borel, Erin Wilson, and Havel Shamal / Preemptive Love Coalition.

Graduation Day Celebrations

All of their hard work paid off on graduation day. Students were honored at ceremonies where they received certificates marking their accomplishments, and enjoyed good food and dancing. Of course there was dancing!

Most of our WorkWell students’ lives were uprooted at a very difficult age. For many, fleeing home meant they didn’t get to finish their schooling, and missed out on the countless milestones that come with that. They missed out on bonding with a set of peers working toward a common goal. They missed out on graduations, being celebrated with their classmates, and recognized for their hard work. Graduation ceremonies at the end of each study cycle give back some of what out students lost to war.

students at graduation
Everyone gathered for graduation. Photo by Jena Borel/Preemptive Love Coalition.
woman holding WorkWell certificate
Certificate well earned. Photo by Jena Borel/Preemptive Love Coalition.
young men and women at graduation
Young men and women celebrating their achievements. Photo by Jena Borel/Preemptive Love Coalition.
Duhok campus staff
A great team staffs our Duhok campus. Photo by Jena Borel/Preemptive Love Coalition.
students dancing
It’s not a celebration without dancing. Photo by Jena Borel/Preemptive Love Coalition.

Assessments for New Cohorts

Before each cycle winds to an end and graduations plans are finalized, we run assessment sessions for potential new students. Teams from each campus visit local refugee and displacement camps, meet with individuals, and administer short tests to determine who would be a good fit for the program.

Assessment days are long, and our teams are committed to meeting with as many potential students as possible—even when that means working long into the night, after the electricity has gone out.

staff working in the dark
Carrying on with assessments, even after dark. Photo by Dana Omar/Preemptive Love Coalition.

New Classes in Session

There isn’t much time to rest after graduation. We’ve already welcomed new cohorts of students to begin this path of learning so they are able to start working and supporting their families as quickly as possible.

Young women and men are in class today, learning skills they need to access the digital marketplace.

When Eyad delivered his speech at graduation he said, “All of this thanks belongs to our teachers and their perfect teaching approach. Also, the success stories that we heard from our teachers every week. All of this positive [reinforcement] gave us more motivation.” He continued, “the course depends on two points—IT and English language. Both of them have become requirements of globalization in Middle East.”

Putting the right skills into the hands of vulnerable young adults—that’s what you’re doing through WorkWell.

students in class
New students, new cycle of learning. Photo by Jena Borel/Preemptive Love Coalition.

Help young Iraqis and Syrians invest in their own future.

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