As a University of Sanctuary, the University of Wales (USW) is committed to providing support to refugees from many different backgrounds.
USW’s Cara Fellows scheme works in partnership with Cara (Council for At-Risk Academics) to help displaced Syrian academics, supporting 34 Cara Fellows with access to library support and opportunities to build networks with USW academics.
One of the Fellows, Sultan Jalabi, is a senior research fellow in Sociology at the Operations and Policy Center (OPC), a Syrian research centre based in Turkey. Sultan has been a member of the Cara Syria programme since 2019, which he says was a turning point in his career: “Being in touch with colleagues from the UK and joining several research projects with them was a great opportunity to learn a lot and also improve my English,” he said.
“However, becoming a USW Cara Fellow marked significant progress for me, as I am now affiliated with the University. This has removed what can often be a difficult barrier for academics living in exile.
“Having access to the University library and its wide network of journals and publishers is essential. Being part of the University community means I have access to various events, activities and opportunities, and importantly, having an open door to a rich academic community where I can learn and contribute.
“I have joined USW's Community of Expertise for Refugee and Migration Studies, where I hope to contribute with my previous work experience with Syrian immigration. I’m looking forward to enhancing my engagement and using the bridge that was built for me through this fellowship.”
The University’s Centre for International English works closely with Cara to provide provides lessons in English for Academic Purposes, a programme specifically designed for academics who want to improve their language skills in their areas of expertise.
Dr Ahmad Darwish Moazen, who is originally from Syria, now lives in Turkey where he is an assistant professor at Ondokuz Mayıs University.
He has benefited from online lessons with Emily Powell, Head of the Centre, for a number of years.
Ahmad specialises in teaching Arabic to non-native speakers, and he has a PhD in Arabic criticism and rhetoric.
He has taught at the University for 11 years, and is interested in journalism as well as translating English and Turkish into Arabic.
“When I left Syria, I wanted to continue my academic career away from the war,” he said.
“Cara has always been supportive of us in this field, especially in terms of publishing scientific research and being involved in workshops. In the area of digital and technology, I have published numerous peer-reviewed articles in international journals and have participated with Cara and many universities in international symposiums and conferences.
“Since I work in the University’s department of translation, I have benefited such a lot from learning English for academic purposes. I thank Emily for her wonderful efforts in my progress with the English language. I hope that one day we can meet in the UK, and exchange experiences and knowledge."
During the past few months, the Centre has also provided ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) lessons for Ukrainian refugees, at USW’s Treforest Campus.
Rachel Stamp, Programme Co-ordinator, is one of the tutors delivering the lessons. She said: “The CIE team have enjoyed facilitating English learning and getting to know students in a relaxed environment.
“This new challenge has been a positive and meaningful experience, and definitely a mutual learning curve. The students are very motivated and enthusiastic, and it’s wonderful to see students growing in skills and confidence, which benefit them in everyday situations.
“The students have given us some wonderful feedback so far, and say that as well as helping with their English language skills, the lessons have been valuable in allowing them to build relationships with other students and us teachers.”
Some of the students share their feedback:
“I can communicate in society, find out what I don’t know, find new friends. I am learning to pronounce words and sounds correctly. Every day it becomes a little easier to communicate, so I want to continue.”
“I really like our English class. The wonderful teachers create a pleasant, friendly atmosphere. We get a lot of knowledge and new information. Here we have made many new friends among Ukrainians. The teachers have also become good friends for us. Thank you to the University for the opportunity to study English, it is very valuable for us. We feel great support from the UK.”