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September 30, 2019

Meet Bischer: A Story of Change

Since arriving in Germany four years ago at the age of 19, Bisher has been pursuing his academic and professional goals in the field of information technology.
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Christoph Buerglen
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Framing the issue

The H&M Foundation and Kiron’s targeted project, “Building a Learning Environment for Study Success (BLESS)”, is responsible for creating an innovative and supportive learning environment for refugees to achieve study success. Kiron provides high-quality online study programs in various fields to refugees and underserved communities worldwide, for free. One of the key obstacles to online study, is providing the students with a sense of community with each other, and the BLESS project sought to tackle this with a multi-pronged approach: creating study groups, making design changes, and organizing seminal events that students could really engage in. The BLESS project created even more new, innovative ways to bring the community together and generate academic and cultural discussions.

Bisher’s story

Since arriving in Germany four years ago at the age of 19, Bisher has been pursuing his academic and professional goals in the field of information technology. Originally from Damascus, Syria’s capital city, Bisher had to leave a few month’s shy of attaining his high school diploma. “Due to that, it was quite impossible for me to find a university place… I decided to join an apprenticeship scheme instead and do it for three years so that then I will have the ability to study at a university.”

Finding an apprenticeship was not easy and once in, participating also brought its own challenges.

The learning atmosphere between the different countries I’ve studied in before is quite different from that in Germany. Specifically group work, for example, was something new to me.

Kiron Student

Bisher is now in the third year of his apprenticeship at Oberstufen Centre for IT and Medical Technology.

He discovered Kiron through a friend’s Facebook post and began taking online courses through the platform to complement what he was learning at his apprenticeship. His first course was an introduction to open source software environment, where he learned the basics in Structured Query Language (SQL). “There are some things that I never had an idea about. For example Linux. So through the course, I got a little closer to Linux and learned how to do basic stuff.”

As well as his mother tongue, Arabic, Bisher speaks excellent English and German and is a highly motivated student – subsequent to his introductory IT courses, he took on Kiron Campus, additionally he took part in Google IT MOOCs nine-month program, which was also available on the Kiron Campus, on top of his existing student workload at his IT apprenticeship.

This free program was “really important for me and for my future because I’m studying IT right now,” Bisher says. “I need a certificate for this course. So I connected with Andreas, the person in charge of the Google IT MOOCs program at Kiron and he invited me to the office to get a better idea of what to expect.”

Bisher is almost eighty percent through with his Google IT MOOCs course load and “it must be finished!… I will add everything to my CV to make it much better.” He believes that programs like this can greatly achieve his chances in the job market, because “everything is related to each other”. He also says that it’s an advantage of course “that it will be certified from a famous company (Google) and everything is official. With that, I can provide something professional to employers.”

Finding this perseverance was not always easy, Bisher reflects, but he credits his offline tutor, Marty and the community around him to help him keep going. “I had the opportunity to give feedback to others and receive feedback for my work – this is really important. I also really like the offline courses with my tutor Marty where we discuss the topics we have trouble with.”