Different Past: Shared Futures Award - Highly Commended Nominee
Ida Mirzaee arrived in Wales in 2020 after fleeing her home country of Iran. “When I first came to Wales, just before the Covid-19 pandemic, I didn’t have any friends, and didn’t know anyone. Covid made things even worse.” “The first learning step that I took in Wales was joining the online English classes delivered by voluntary teachers at the Welsh Refugee Council during the pandemic. Getting involved in an educational activity changed everything.
The classes were so helpful for me and gave me a lifeline during a very difficult time.” From this start, Ida moved onto ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes at Cardiff and Vale College. She says, “I can’t imagine my learning journey without mentioning the importance of the teachers, lecturers, and classmates – especially during lockdown! Those classes built up my confidence and I had a chance to socialise with people and make new friends.”
Such was Ida’s progress, she was offered a Sanctuary Scholarship to study a master’s in Animation at the University of South Wales.
Reflecting on her learning and resettling she says, “It’s like you are standing next to a busy road. One way leads to you working in a restaurant or food delivery, the kind of job that doesn’t need the skills or qualifications you may have. Doing these jobs, when you know you have more to offer, can lead to mental health problems as you feel undervalued and of little use to society. However, in the other direction, if you are lucky, you can use your skills and experience and develop a professional career. There is now hope on this road, whereas before, there was none.”
Ida’s experiences have meant that she is committed to support and inspire other people to follow their dreams. “Because of this learning experience, I have promised that I will do the same in my life. I promised myself to help others. I hope I can inspire others to follow their dreams. I believe that education offers hope in the present and the promise of a fulfilling, rewarding life in the longer term.”