Edinburgh Global

Afraa’s inspiring work with Syrian teenagers through STTEPS

Like many others, Afraa, a recent graduate of Neuroscience, was deeply moved by the challenges faced by Syrians and admired their bravery, and decided to volunteer as a mentor with STTEPS (Syrian Teenage Tutoring and Education Programme).

Portrait image of Afraa outside in beautiful gardens
Afraa, graduate of Neuroscience, University if Edinburgh

STTEPS  is a programme run by University of Edinburgh students, Syrian community coordinators and the University Chaplaincy. Their goal is to bridge the educational gaps caused by the Syrian civil war and facilitate their smooth integration into local schools.  

Afraa shared her experience of supporting teens, new to Edinburgh. 

Volunteer mentoring for Syrian teens 

Driven by a desire to provide hands-on support, Afraa and other volunteers set-up a group within STTEPS, matching University of Edinburgh students with Syrian refugee teens for tailored educational assistance and community-building activities. 

“Whilst I was involved in charity work and raising awareness, I always wanted to offer more direct support. When STTEPS was launched, I seized the opportunity to use my skills to provide more direct support.” 

“I co-organised a group of volunteer students to provide educational support and skills to Syrian refugee teenagers in the Edinburgh community. My role was to assess the educational needs and challenges of each Syrian teenager and match them with a volunteer university student. Understanding each teenager's educational needs and learning styles was crucial for ensuring efficient and effective tutoring. Furthermore, my role involved organising days out and workshops that would facilitate our wider aims.” 

Helping teens integrate at school 

Afraa explained how the organisation focuses on helping Syrian refugee teens excel in school by addressing their unique needs. 

“At the core of STTEPS, our primary goal was to ensure that teenagers thrived in school and seize every opportunity available to them. We achieved this by understanding their educational requirements and facilitating a seamless integration into their school environments.” 

Importance of community inclusion 

Recognising the cultural and social challenges faced by participants, and addressing these barriers, helped ease participant’s development. The programme continues to play a crucial role in strengthening community inclusion for young refugees in Edinburgh. 

“Early on, we noticed that Syrian teenagers faced cultural and social differences at their local schools. To promote a positive and healthy integration, it was important to identify the changes they encountered, understand their significance, and address them to help the teenagers integrate into the local community in a way that supports their development. Without programmes like STTEPS, these issues might have gone unnoticed and posed potential barriers to the teenagers' growth.” 

“We recognised how important this programme was for the teenagers from first hand experience. We are so pleased that STTEPS continues to thrive and supports more teenage refugees joining our community.” 

Opportunity to get involved 

STTEPS invites university students who are compassionate and dedicated to community support to assist with tutoring sessions for teenagers held every Friday at the Chaplaincy from 2-4pm.  If you're interested, please find Amer Masri at the Chaplaincy on Fridays at 2pm. 

Syrian Teenage Tutoring and Education Programme (STTEPS)