Dr Joanna Newman, Vice-Principal (International) at King’s College London
“As the world faces the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, we at King’s have an opportunity to act as a community of students, academics and professionals, contributing expertise, knowledge and time or donating to a series of initiatives.
There are many ways in which our community is involved already, from the Sanctuary Scholarships we are now offering students from war-torn and conflict countries to our sponsorship of CARA, which helps to place refugee academics; from the volunteering work our staff and students do (donating clothes and blankets, offering legal advice and teaching English are just a few examples), to the relevant research we carry out, the policy advice we contribute and the education we provide to ensure our students are global citizens who want to contribute solutions to world problems.
Photo taken by Yousuf Al-Moulaya
One of the ways we can contribute meaningfully as a university is in the field of education. By building strong and reciprocal relationships, with partner universities in European countries with large refugee populations as well as in the countries in which the majority of those displaced find themselves, we can contribute expertise, knowledge, equipment and create online educational materials and other tools to help. One of these countries affected by the crisis is Lebanon, which I visited recently with Professor Michael Kerr, Director of the Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, and KCLSU President Nadine Almanasfi to explore potential partnerships and initiatives through which we can make an impact.
Photo taken by Yousuf Al-Moulaya
There are over 700,000 refugee children from Syria in Lebanon, many of whom do not have access to education. We had wonderful discussions with NGOs including UNHCR and UNICEF, the British ambassador, the American University of Beirut and inspiring local charities that are helping building schools in the country. All of these discussions showed us the enormous potential for us to build impactful and reciprocal relationships in the region.
Most inspiring of all were the young Syrian refugees we met there. In spite of the adversity they face every day, they haven’t given up on their dreams of education and of a bright future. They were resilient and brave, living in difficult and challenging circumstances. On World Refugee Day, I would like to share with you some of the comments they shared with us, which serve as a great motivation for me and for the King’s community to expand our efforts to make a difference to those affected.”
Nadine Almanasfi, Dr Joanna Newman and Professor Michael Kerr (3rd, 4th and 5th from left) meeting with refugees in Lebanon
“Education is important because it is the way to success. Also it is important to continue studying in university after high school to get more and more education and be a successful person in life, not for material aims but for moral and humanitarian aims. The society that has educated people of course will be modern and open-minded. In addition to that, the educated person will be healthy both physically and mentally. We may lose things around us: our house, money or even people, but what the person has in their brain, their knowledge, is the best thing in life. We must work hard to get more education.” – Yousuf Al-Moulaya
“In my opinion, university is very important to have a chance to complete my education and improve my situation. Also, it’s the way to make myself become more responsible. I just want to be an active member in society. I wish I could go to university to be successful and achieve my dreams.” – Maryam Alkhattib
“In the present age and our situation as refugees, education is the way to cope with the difficult conditions that surround us, to give us a real aim and be useful for mankind.” – Fatma Shmma
“University is a dream to many students and we all hope to get to university and study the subject which we loved too much. I think that education is important for students because it gives one the rational power to make better choices, to be more efficient and to advance in the future. I want to study at university and be an engineer and build my country when I come back.” – Riham Misho
“Everyone in this world hopes to be a successful person and have a positive impact in life. The students can do it with their university study, so in this period getting to university is the most important issue. We as student refugees face a lot of difficulties to access academic education, but we will always do our best to get our aim and achieve our dreams.” – Arwa Aladdin
In the year ahead, King’s will be expanding on its work to help alleviate the refugee crisis. If you would like to find out more about what we’re doing, subscribe to this blog or visit our website www.kcl.ac.uk/refugeeswelcome If you are a King’s student or staff member and would like to be kept up to date, would like to contribute to the blog or want to let us know about things you are doing to help, please do contact firstname.lastname@example.org.