Helping Syrian youths inside Syria pursue their dreams of study abroad.
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This is the story of Damascus resident Shaza, who graduated from university and set out to conquer the world and make a change in her life and others’.
She received a conditional university scholarship offer this year from a prestigious university abroad. However, when Shaza knew that she needed to go to Lebanon to sit for her IELTS test to meet the language requirement of the university, her chest tightened with worry that she might not be able to continue her studies.
After a nerve-racking, week-long search for a way to sit her IELTS test, she found out that she could neither afford travelling to Lebanon nor could she travel alone since she had no one to accompany her there. She was totally devastated. It was a life-long dream that was crushed in a few seconds.
"I was just crying all the time," she said. "After years of hard work and studying 12 hours every day, from 6 am to 6 pm, I simply couldn't pursue my dream just because I couldn't travel to Lebanon. What could I do?"
Shaza's family feared that their daughter was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. They helped her gather her courage and supported her emotionally, but they couldn't manage to secure enough money for her to travel to Lebanon to sit for the IELTS.
This is not only the story of Shaza; it's the sad story of thousands of Syrian and Palestinian students in Syria who need to travel to neighboring Lebanon to sit the IELTS.
What everyone should know is the distressing details of getting this mission accomplished.
First: When trying to book an IELTS test, one is faced with fact that there is no electronic payment method in Syria. Therefore, somebody must be present in Lebanon on their behalf to pay the fees of the test within a maximum period of 3 days from the date of booking or face cancellation.
There are some centers in Syria that will assist in the booking process, but they charge about $60--a large amount of money in Syria, especially when it is added to the $200 already paid in test fees.
Second: Entry into Lebanon is such a leap of faith journey. Transportation costs to Lebanon amount to about $100, not to mention the waiting period at the Lebanese border is 8-10 hours.
One more hindrance is that many test candidates are government employees who must have a visa to leave Syria; this adds a lot of mental pressure, time, and money due to the task of acquiring the visa.
Third: To enter Lebanon, one needs to submit a proof of hotel booking. The student has to book a hotel for two days at a cost of approximately $110 and must further provide a cash fund of no less than $1000 to be allowed to cross the borders.
Fourth: After the students have made it to Lebanon, they will need at least $100 to cover transportation fees and food costs (estimated at about $50 each).
It gets worse; there is an additional difficulty faced by female students-- that of travelling alone while fearing many unforeseen obstacles along the way.
As a result of being nervous and fatigued before entering the exam due to travel difficulties and procedures, test candidates' true language proficiency level can't be measured nor will the results accurately reflect their true level of English. These added stressors might naturally result in the students getting less than the required exam score causing the students to have to undergo the whole nightmare again.
We are aware of the complications due to the Syrian crisis and know that because of these political, military, and logistical complications, the
British Council, IDP, and Cambridge English Language Assessment can't operate in Syria at the moment, but we wholeheartedly urge all stakeholders to find basic, feasible solutions to this ongoing dilemma. Being fully knowledgeable of the complications, we are sure that the British Council, IDP, and Cambridge English Language Assessment have the willingness and tools to come up with innovative ideas that can put an end to this issue.
As you’re working towards a solution, keep in mind that it’s not only about helping Syrian youth; it's quite possibly about giving the world a chance to welcome the next Steve Jobs whose biological father was, after all, a Syrian immigrant
Give Syrians a chance.
Give the world a chance.
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