Primary tabs

1,182 kmfrom home
"I don’t want to be seen only as a refugee or a migrant. I just want to be Hanien: a student, an architect, a family member, and a friend."
Current Country: 
Country of Origin: 
Syrian Arab Republic

Share this story:

"I arrived in Cairo in October 2012 looking to start my postgraduate degree in Architectural Studies at Cairo University. The conflict in Syria has made everything, including education, well-nigh impossible, so I moved to Cairo University after a decree was issued that stated that Syrian students were to pay local tuition fees.

"Syrian students do not typically have the luxury of worrying exclusively about their studies. They often have to secure a source of income to survive and to help their families back home. My home city of Ar-Raqqa has now been overtaken by ISIS who continuously threaten and terrorize my family and loved ones. Surviving in Ar-Raqqa is becoming exceptionally challenging, requiring me to increase financial support for my family.

"Right now, I am one of a relatively small number of Syrian students in Egypt who are pursuing Master’s degrees. I have been coordinating with them as we try to navigate the universities’ bureaucracy; unfortunately, it has been difficult to obtain our degrees due to the ever-changing rules, regulations and fees being imposed by the universities on Syrian students.

"Since beginning my degree in 2012, Cairo University has changed the fees the three other Syrian students and I are required to pay numerous times. When we started our studies, we were required to pay the same rate as Egyptians (around $500)—after multiple changes, we are now required to pay £5,000 (British Pounds) or we will not receive our degrees. This may not seem like a lot of money, but this has been a long, exhausting and spirit-breaking issue for us.

"At the end of January 2015 one of my Syrian student colleagues chose to use the money he had prepared for tuition fees to pay his way on a refugee boat heading to Germany through the Mediterranean Sea. The gamble of possibly losing his life on the way seemed to be more appealing than staying in Egypt and continuing fighting for rights he knew he did not have.

"I cannot pay the fees—working two jobs gives me just enough money to pay my rent and send some home to my family. But if I don’t pay, I will miss my chance to graduate and it will be like I never did the degree."

If you want to give Hanien a boost so she can receive her master's degree, you can visit her crowdfunding page here.

Read More of Hanien's Interview in the Arab Expatriate Exchange Newsletter:
Arabic version
English version

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s):


https://together.un.org            http://usaim.org/            https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org