Refugee Week 2022 | Ida hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams

Ida Mirzaee sanctuary scholarship MA Animation_web

To mark Refugee Week 2022 (20-26 June), we speak to MA Animation student Ida Mirzaee, who has received a University of South Wales (USW) Sanctuary Scholarship to help with her studies. Ida first arrived in Wales in early 2020, after fleeing her home country of Iran. Here, she tells us her story.

“When I first came to Wales, soon before the Covid-19 pandemic, I didn’t have any friends, and didn't know anyone. Covid made things even worse.

“The first learning step that I took in Wales was joining the online English classes delivered by voluntary teachers at the Welsh Refugee Council during the pandemic. Getting involved in an educational activity changed everything. The classes were so helpful for me and gave me a lifeline during a very difficult time.

“I can’t imagine my learning journey without mentioning the importance of the teachers, lecturers, and classmates – especially during lockdown! After attending the Refugee Council classes, I soon began attending ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes at Cardiff and Vale college. Those classes built up my confidence and I had a chance to socialize with people and make new friends. My English developed enough that in summer 2021, I won a scholarship to study the MA in Animation at USW."

Ida created this animated film which was shown at a USW Refugee Week event on Monday:

“Being a person seeking sanctuary in Wales is life changing indeed – like you are standing next to a busy road. One way leads to you working in a restaurant or food delivery, the kind of job that doesn’t need the skills or qualifications you may have. Doing these jobs, when you know you have more to offer, can lead to mental health problems as you feel undervalued and of little use to society.

“However, in the other direction, if you are lucky, you can use your skills and experience and develop a professional career and be useful for society. Fortunately, winning the USW Sanctuary Scholarship has meant I can follow this direction – this has affected my life now, and my future life chances – profoundly. There is now hope on this road, whereas before, there was none.

“I would like to say that everything that I’ve got is because of the actions of kind, lovely people who accept us as asylum seekers without knowing us – teachers, fellow people seeking asylum, new friends. I have managed to find myself a new country, new culture and new life through the help of these people.

“Because of this learning experience, I have promised that I will do the same in my life. I promised myself to help others. I hope I can inspire others to follow their dreams if they want to do a professional job and look for opportunities to study or train in the field you want. I believe that education offers hope in the present and the promise of a fulfilling, rewarding life in the longer term.”

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