“Everyone should find the key to their inspiration.” – Khaled, Kiron Student
Key to Inspiration
I wanted to study, so I started my bachelor’s at 17 as one of the youngest in my class. I wanted to become a chemical engineer and I had an incredible passion for programming – this, amongst all the numbers and codes, is where I found myself. My name is Khaled and my passion for programming and for learning, has continued to push me forward over the last five years. I am from Hama, a small city in the middle of Syria, but I moved to Erfurt, which is the middle of Germany, two years ago. When I first came to Germany, I felt like an outsider. In the beginning, I didn’t really have the opportunity to do anything. I was only taking language courses which was nice, but it made me realize how much I missed my education. Then I found Kiron, and I felt a sense of belonging. I felt like I was back and that I had refound myself through my studies! Erfurt has become my new heimat stadt, it is very nice here and even though I am not very social, I enjoy the company of the friends I have made.
The little bit of socializing that I do here is a big deal for me. I always was and mostly still am the guy that is always in his room, in front of his computer, hidden away from the rest of the world. One time, my entire family even went on a trip to Morocco together and everybody went – my parents, two sisters and brother – except for me. But I preferred it this way. I wanted to stay home, tucked away behind my computer screen, looking at codes and numbers, making sense of the world I truly felt I was apart of. Going out and travelling never really appealed to me. My parents mostly respected my introvertive ways, but from an early age, my dad had encouraged me to be a doctor – he wanted me to be able to help people. But I found my passion in IT and I defended that passion and studied everything I could about it. Everyone should find the key to their inspiration. I truly believe that people need to find and defend their dreams and then try hard to achieve it, to never give up. My mom always told me to do what I wanted, to follow my dreams and that she trusted in me. So here I am, trying to do just that.
Like I said, Kiron gave me a sense of purpose again, so I pursued it. My courses with Kiron and Saylor Academy were very well built and explained. I have been studying with Kiron for two years now. I am on the computer science study track which I love because it reminds me of my studies back in Syria. I actually liked the tests and how they made you practice a lot. I did extra online practices because I think repetition is important for memorizing programming languages – just like learning any spoken language. I am fluent in English, German, Arabic, not so much French and Spanish anymore, and if we want to count the, of course a few programming languages! Even though it was difficult for me to get out of my comfort zone, I have found myself making more use of my spoken languages since I got to Germany. It is easy for me to stay in room all day behind my computer, but it’s been good for me to interact a bit more in the outside world.
I am going to be 23 this month, and I wish more than anything to go back to a real university and to challenge myself. I studied IT for two years before I had to leave Syria, but all of my interests have been IT and programming related since 14. I wasn’t the teenager who went out with friends, or thought about girls, or got caught up in sports. There was a time I enjoyed playing football, but at 15 I suffered an injury and since then, my happy place became the comfort of my solitude in my room, in front of my computer, with nothing but me and the ways of the online world. I enjoyed finding problems and loopholes in online systems, and even found a way to hack my own university. I told the college minister that there was a default in the website and database but he was adamant that I must be wrong and even challenged me to hack it if I could. So I did, and I gave myself straight A’s. It was one of my proudest moments and I even got an award for hacking into my own university! The feeling this gave me is exactly what I am trying to pursue – I want to be the IT and security expert guy at a top programming company.
I’d love to go to Canada one day – Canada has the best companies. I could also go for France or USA, they have some good job opportunities too. My dream is to be an IT expert. As an IT expert, I want to help people and companies. It is like being a police office from beyond a computer. But I know this dream wouldn’t be possible in Syria anyway, so to be honest, I don’t want to go back to Syria. Even if I had been able to finish my university there, I would have had to leave eventually to find a good programming company to work for. My family and friends are still in Syria. I miss my parents, my siblings, my friends – even though we stay connected through online gaming – and I miss my university and room too. The atmosphere is just different back home then it is here, not necessarily better or worse, just different. I live alone now but I don’t mind it – afterall, I was always alone in my room, so as long as I still have access to a computer, I can find a way to feel at home.
Interview by Alisha Merkle