Can you imagine having to leave behind your home, friends and family to go on your own to a new country? That’s what some young refugees have experienced. Read their story…
Reach spoke to 3 young people from Eritrea, Somalia and the Republic of the Congo about their experiences of arriving in a new country. Despite the hard times they have gone through, all three were really keen to learn.
They said that the classes at Anniesland had made a big difference in their lives – not just in helping them to learn English and adapt to life in a new country, but also giving them the chance to make new friends. “I’m happy to understand the people and to share conversations”, one young refugee told us, “We feel like a family… We trust each other. And we work very hard, we help each other.”
It’s not easy getting used to so much change though: “the thing is, our country we learn some kind of different things than is here and the questions is different, teacher is different, everything is different”, one boy said. In fact, school is so different here in Scotland that even the timetable feels like a big change – apparently in Congo and Somalia, school starts at 7.30am! One girl from Africa had good things to say about how easy it had been to approach teachers in Scotland: “there is good communication here between teacher and student: here you are free, you can talk to your teacher, you can share something with your teacher”.
Another thing that has been hard for these young refugees is waiting to find out if they are allowed to stay in Scotland: “It’s very difficult to concentrate for the learning because you just think about the answer Home Office gonna give you”, we were told. One of our interviewees explained that she has been given a lot of support by the Scottish Guardianship service, which works with young people who arrive in Scotland unaccompanied and separated from their families: “When I arrived here, and she take me to my social worker and I think she helped me, everything! She gave me support, not only for education, for all my personal things, like appointments. When I have like bad mood, I called her and she will came and take me out … we can meet new friends, new people, so we don’t feel alone. Like, I stay without family but they make me happy and forget all of things like the back history”.
Learning a whole new language with a different alphabet and different pronunciation is a big challenge too: “the difficult was the pronunciation and it’s not our first language – it was difficult when I came here”. The young refugees we interviewed were all taking ESOL classes – classes in English for Speakers of Other Languages. They explained that the ESOL classes aren’t just about learning the language, they are also learning about citizenship, democracy and what life is like in Scotland.
When asked what advice they would give to other young refugees in Scotland, the young people said that two of their top tips are to study hard and to learn English.”Don’t give up, just keep going and have a choice” one advised. “Don’t forget where you come from”, said another. And what were these young people dreaming of doing in the future? They spoke with one voice when they replied: “to go to uni and get a good job so I can help in my own country and the people who need help also”.
If you’re affected by any of the issues in this post, call the Scottish Refugee Council on 0141 248 9799
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