“One of our freelance students, Heve, recently got a job in a company for lighting, furniture, and design as the PR Manager.” Ms. Dhuha, manager of one of our tech hub campuses in northern Iraq, was thrilled to share the success of a student in our Freelancing course.
Heve perfectly represents so many Syrian refugees living in Iraq. She previously studied at a university in Syria, but in her current situation–displaced, widowed, with three children to raise, and without the skills needed for the current economy–Heve was one of the thousands of Syrian refugees absolutely stuck. She was unable to provide for her children, and unable to move ahead.
“Heve is one of the biggest personalities in my class. She is always listening.” English teacher, Mr. Isa, recognized that Heve already possessed many of the soft skills needed to successfully get a job. She was great at public speaking, and displayed creativity, leadership skills, and confidence. But she was missing computer and IT skills.
“She applied for this position when the students were applying for jobs in our Freelancing class. She was required to take a test in Excel and to have an interview.” Heve told campus manager Dhuha that she could not have landed this job–with an excellent salary that will allow her to take care of her family–without the skills and knowledge she learned through our tech program.
“We are very happy and proud to see such results and to see such gratitude and thanks from our students” Ms. Dhuha shared. This is the kind of success happening with your investment in vulnerable young adults in Iraq.
“Payam is a very dedicated student. She always pays attention to the class and wants to learn as much as she can.” English teacher Ms. Sandra works hard at developing fluency in her students. While all of the young adults we work with are fluent in some combination of Middle Eastern languages–Arabic, Kurdish, Turkish, Persian–English remains the international language for business and technology.
“Her English was already good because she studied in the English department in college. She refuses to speak Kurdish in class to ask any questions or for anything. She always speaks English. Even if she makes mistakes sometimes, she learns from them. She is really improving every day.”
Awkward group activities? Yes, they happen here, too! But they often prove to be the most memorable teaching moments. It takes a lot of courage to look for work in a city you’ve been displaced to—where you don’t have the necessary contacts built over a lifetime.
Learning games that provide both the chance for vulnerability and for cheering on fellow classmates, are effective in building soft business skills, and the essential and difficult heart skills, needed to land a job.
One of the most insidious impacts of ISIS’ presence in Mosul was the breakdown of community trust. Under the caliphate, neighbors no longer knew if those who shared a common fence were safe. Women stayed indoors with their own family members for years at a time, away from the gaze of soldiers and the all-female morality enforcement brigades.
For young Iraqis, these were the years in their lives when having the freedom to study, gather, and network should have been setting up the path for the rest of their careers—and lives.
Group activities in class slowly rebuild bonds of trust between strangers. Discussions about potential website designs, weekly presentation topics, and solving tough tech assignments allow these young adults to make up for some of the time that war stole from them.
Finding work in the post-war Iraqi economy is serious business. If there is no job, there is no food—because there is no social safety net to catch you when you fall. At each of our campuses, the student body is made up of a mix of Syrian refugees, displaced Iraqis, and vulnerable host community members. They all need opportunities that come with access to the global marketplace. To be honest, they all need a little laughter in their lives, too.
“Shakir is a very respectful student,” teacher Ms. Sara shared with us about a recent Student of the Week. “He was not that active in class, but in the past week I have noticed that he has become more active.” Building skills and hope takes time and patience. And it’s absolutely worth it.
Preemptive Love is in the people transformation business. That is the core of every piece of programming we do. For young Syrians and Iraqis who missed out on school and skills because of war, the future looked hopeless. The students you’ve met here, and hundreds more, have been transformed into more hopeful–and in many cases, employed workers–because of your investment.