My name is Ali, I come from Syria and I have been living in Germany since over two and a half years now. I had been studying with Kiron since the very beginning and now have successfully transferred to one of Kiron’s partner universities. Today I am proud to study Computer Science at the University of Lübeck. However, I still study with Kiron, the whole Kiron support system and the courses give me the online support I need to successfully follow my German online classes at the university. I had already studied Engineering for two years in Syria. Before everything changed. At the end of 2013 the attacks and the bombing left us no choice but to leave our homes. I was devastated and I was not able to finish my studies. I came to Germany, just like all the others did, via Turkey, Greece, and all the other countries that seemed out of reach and suddenly became part of our scary reality and journey. I moved from place to place, first from Hof to Munich, then to Trier and later to the suburbs of Mannheim. Here I had the opportunity to work for SAP from the camp. I got really interested in business informatics. Moreover, I volunteered for the Bundesfreiwilligendienst (BFD) (National Voluntary Service), where I was also supporting with my IT knowledge, giving computer workshops at the youth centers.
However, my dream was to really study again, so I went to the University of Mannheim with all my papers and was ready to get started. I was extremely motivated and excited. However, all this excitement seemed to crush against a heavy big wall of German bureaucracy. When I offered them my papers, all my certificates and everything I had achieved in my life, their answer was that I would not be allowed to study in Germany, because my high school diploma would not be accepted. I thought this must be a big joke and I was really shocked, I felt that all my ambition was blocked. I thought maybe this is a mistake of one university, so I applied to universities all over Germany and forced myself to not give up. However, they all refused me. Nevertheless, I did not lose my hope. I thought I can still work and see where life takes me. Then I heard about Kiron. It was like a light in a very dark tunnel. A light that showed me the door to study again. I was one of the first hundred students of Kiron. I could not believe I was finally able to study and to learn again. It gave me so much hope and I started to search for new perspectives. Next to my studies at Kiron I took part in the Lübeck University refugee program, it was similar to the Studienkolleg program, this helped me to get into Lübeck University. It took a lot of steps to get there but I finally made it. It was the best moment I had in Germany – my favorite and lucky moment. When I opened my mailbox, I found a letter from the university that I would be accepted to study. I remember that I just stood there, holding this letter in my hand full of joy for longer than quite a while. Just because I was so happy. I even carried the acceptance letter in my pocket for month. Just for myself, to always have it with me and to show everyone that I was finally a full student at a German university, no longer just a refugee. I had risen above the label and had proven myself to follow my dreams.
Then I heard about Kiron. It was like a light in a very dark tunnel. A light that showed me the door to study again.
Kiron also helped me to get a scholarship so I could finance my studies. Thanks to Kironistas like Flo, Milena and Ronny I was lucky to receive a scholarship by the Stiftung Deutsche Wirtschaft (SDW). The support I receive from SDW is incredible. At university, you learn a lot but you are not in touch with the real life and how the economic, social and political situation in Germany really is. Thanks to SDW we are able to be in touch with German startups and companies. Also, regional group seminars and workshops really help us. Like a seminar a few weeks ago, where I had the chance to learn more about the challenges of digitalization. These SDW workshops and the support we receive, fuel our ambition and you are able to network with other students, who each and everyone shares an inspiring story and gives you energy and motivates you. Some of them have already succeeded and created their own companies or projects.
Since two Semesters I have now been studying at Lübeck University, Mathematics, Physics and Informatics and of course German. I could not believe, when I was finally allowed to study, after two hard years of work and learning German. It had been a long dream, which finally became reality. Especially experiencing the differences between online and offline learning was really cool. Studying online, you can always repeat everything, watch tutorials over and over again, but offline you have to get everything right away and it is much harder. Especially, when professors speak with a strong dialect or just really fast. Also, it is quite a different kind of German, to the language that you learn in the books. I find German to be very curious language. In my first week in Germany I learned how to say “Entschuldigung”. I could not believe that this word really means “sorry”. If one has never heard German in life before, one stumbles over these words and first has to get a feeling for the language. Another word that I find cool is “GEIL”, I know it can mean several things. But I just love that you can use it for everything cool!
I believe the combination of online and offline learning is perfect for me, like this I have the Kiron support and can study for myself but also enjoy the offline experience at a real university. I am really happy to have the chance to study again, and meet new friends, even though IT people are not the most social, I have a lot of German and Syrian friends.
However, I must say that I feel most at home in Berlin. It is such a big city. Lübeck is beautiful, with its nature and its small-town charm. In Berlin, however, everything seems unlimited. You have so many opportunities and so much that you can discover. In Berlin, everything is about diversity and movement. Every individual that moves through the streets of Berlin, carries their own cultural roots and thoughts.
I would not say that I feel at home in Lübeck yet. Feeling at home is not something you just feel. Especially after you were forced to leave your home. But I feel safe and I can study. Most of all I can dream and have a future again. One day, I would love to live in Berlin and work for an IT startup or even launch my own project. I am the person who will be the person who can be – I mean by that, that I will achieve what I want to achieve. Because I believe that I am “GEIL”! Just follow your dreams and do not give up!
Interview by Flora Roenneberg // #Education4Integration campaign, sponsored by H&M Foundation