Coursera for Refugees brings transformational learning to vulnerable populations around the world. Since 2016, the program has brought free access to Coursera’s full catalog to more than 11,000 refugee learners.
Yazan is a student, volunteer, and community leader from Syria who is building a new life in Germany. He participates in Coursera for Refugees through Kiron Open Higher Education. Here’s Yazan’s story, in his own words:
As the war in Syria became worse and worse it became clear that I had to leave. I left with nothing more than the clothes on my back, the shoes on my feet, and some personal belongings in a shoulder bag.
It has been three years since I arrived in Germany, and while so much has changed, one of the feelings I love most is having my identity back. Today, I look in the mirror and see myself with a smile again. My reflection shows a 26-year-old Syrian man from Damascus, a guy who believes in himself and his future, a man who values good people, hard work and education.
As I resettled into my new community, I started working with an integration program called “New Land” and only a year after the program had been developed, we won first prize in best integration programs for refugees in Saxony-Anhalt. I was doing so much for my community, for my fellow Syrians and for the betterment of Germany’s integration issues all at once. I was on cloud nine, and while it was hard to step away from all of this excitement, I know I needed to focus on myself in order to keep helping others. And the only way I knew how to do that, was to keep learning.
My studies were always very important to me, and I was crushed to stop them when I left home. Thanks to Kiron, I was able to keep learning through access to Coursera.
One of my favorite courses is Philosophy, Science and Religion by The University of Edinburgh. To me, these are some of the most interesting and important topics in the world. After a few years of learning and putting my education first, I was accepted to Bard College, where I will earn a Bachelor’s degree in Humanities, the Arts, and Social Thought.
I’m relieved by the thought of staying in one place for a few years, and by being able to access lots of books and knowledge about history and philosophy. One day, I hope to start my own business. For now, my education comes first. I want to read everything, and absorb all I can! There are certainly a lot of things I miss about my old life, but it is in this new life, one filled with good people, great opportunities and endless possibilities that I feel I am finally home.7