Tutors help Syrian refugees to settle in
Student tutors are helping young refugees from Syria to adapt to new lives in Edinburgh.
Students are working with The Teenage Syrian Refugee Tutoring Project to support 22 young people to find their feet in the city.
The Project recruited more than 20 student volunteers from Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and the University’s Islamic Society.
The volunteers hold weekly sessions with Syrian teenagers, helping them with English language and giving tuition in specific subjects such as Maths. In addition, they play games and take the young people on outings to familiarise them with the city.
Access to education
Dr Amer Masri, a post-doctoral researcher in sheep genetics at the University, worked with the University’s Chaplaincy to set up the Project.
I was a refugee. In Syria I was imprisoned and tortured. When I came to Scotland in 2011, the University helped me a lot. I’ve always felt grateful and I wanted to help other Syrian refugees here. No words are enough to thank the University for facilitating the initiative. I feel proud that we have been able to do something that benefits these teenagers. Scotland will be their home and they need to be positive individuals in this community, and the best way is education and socialising with local people.
Amer hopes the tutoring can continue for the duration of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) global resettlement programme, due to end in 2020.
In this short film student tutors and Syrian teenagers discuss the benefits of the project.
The teenagers come from refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Many of them have suffered the loss of family members and experienced traumatic events.
They often face language difficulties and isolation when they arrive in a new country and experience a different culture. The tutoring project helps them integrate into life in Edinburgh, develop skills and make new friends.
Some of the refugees have had no access to education for several years. Through meeting the student volunteers, the teenagers have built up their English language skills, gained confidence and improved their marks in school.
Adult refugee groups usually have access to language lessons but we saw fewer options for teenagers so we felt we should do something. The teenagers were in need of friendship and community and I think we have been able to offer that.
Other refugee projects at the University
Many staff and students are committed to helping refugees from Syria. You can read about some of their work in the Greek camps:
University support for refugees https://global.ed.ac.uk/features/refugee-support-university-edinburgh
University’s Refugee Advisory Service https://www.ed.ac.uk/global/student-advisory-service/access-for-refugees