Academic meeting for asylum seekers
Some 25 asylum seekers jumped at the invitation to a café and academic meeting on Campus Norrköping. Two teachers at the Department of Social and Welfare Studies (ISV) were behind the invitation. They’ve already planned several more.
In the entryway to Kåkenhus Building, Sabine Gruber – teacher and researcher in social work – meets the asylum seekers who registered for the evening’s café and academic meeting. Some of the guests come alone, others in small groups; a large group comes by bus from asylum housing in Valdemarsvik. Ms Gruber’s co-worker, Marie Gustavsson, guides their guests to the large green coffee break room, where coffee and cheese sandwiches have been set out.
“We’ve talked for a long time about trying to do something for asylum seekers,” Ms Gruber says. “Arranging shadow spots or vacant spots in various courses, perhaps.”
Encouraged by LiU’s refugee initiative project, Ms Gruber and Ms Gustavsson took matters into their own hands and invited people to an unbiased academic conversation about opportunities and desires from both directions.
“I’m involved in the Asylum Group in Norrköping, and usually call myself an asylum rights activist,” Ms Gruber says. “I know how tough the asylum process is for people. We want to offer asylum seekers an academic context, show them the opportunities that exist at the university, which can often otherwise be a small, secluded world.”
Also on the bus from Valdemarsvik was Nhela Ali, (at right), communications officer for asylum seekers in the municipality.
“My job is to find reasonable daily activities for asylum seekers. Courses in Swedish for academics, for example; I’ve organised them for several years, and many have gotten so good in Swedish that they can skip the SFI programme.”
“This is a great initiative. We need to be in touch with the university to learn the steps up to validation so that the strengths of asylum seekers can be made use of earlier.”
Nour Chamoun was one of the participants at the meeting. She’s learned a bit of Swedish, but English works better so she is also a teacher of English. She hopes to be able to attend some of the international courses in English that Remeso has, which they are considering opening to ‘shadow students’.
“I would really like a future as a teacher in Sweden,” Ms Chamoun says. “I lived and worked in Dubai as an administrator for a few years. But I think being a teacher is better; there will be a shortage of teachers in Sweden.”
After the evening’s meeting, it was clear that many had started and/or interrupted their studies in their home countries. They have questions about how they could continue their studies in Sweden, how they can get access to programmes or opportunities for supplementary qualification.
“I think this reflects the questions that many asylum seekers around the country probably have. It’s important that universities and colleges can come together with opportunities for supplementary qualifications, ‘fast tracks’ and the like,” Ms Gruber says.
LiU’s refugee initiative project (in swedish)
Last updated: 2016-05-04