As part of Refugee Week 2020 KAMA Oxford was featured in a video by Oxford City Council highlighting several local organisations working with refugees and asylum seekers: @RefugeeOxford, @AsylumWelcome, @KAMAOxford, @MultakaO
Several of our enthusiastic volunteers appear, describing what volunteering means to them - enjoy!
This month I had a chat to Muradi Bakir about her experience teaching a course for KAMA Oxford.
Muradi found out about KAMA from a friend who knew she was interested in teaching Arabic. After getting in touch with Isabel and being paired up with teaching mentor Janet, Muradi started giving lessons in Arabic for beginners at the end of November 2019.
Muradi proved to be a natural teacher, "I was nervous before the first lesson, but Janet said I had seemed calm", she remembers. She was surprised at the amount of interest in the course, which now has over 20 students in three groups. Many were simply attracted by the challenge of learning a new language, while others have previously lived in Arabic speaking countries (like Syria and Bahrain) and are interested in building on the experience now they are back in the UK. Muradi has found that the students take their Arabic lessons seriously and told me that it has been great to see them improve from week to week.
Although teaching Arabic is new to Muradi, she has always been fascinated by language, writing poetry and stories since childhood. She has already shared her poetry with Oxford audiences, and was recently approached by a filmmaker interested in making a short film about her experiences and work - an exciting project which they hope to return to as soon as possible.
It was great to hear that Muradi is enjoying teaching. "It makes me happy to see that learning Arabic makes my students happy, I feel satisfied" she said. The current lockdown has put the course on hold, but Muradi plans to resume with online lessons soon and is even thinking about ways to gain a teaching qualification so that she could later pursue a career in teaching.
Muradi sees her involvement with KAMA as something positive, sometimes even a welcome distraction in stressful and difficult times. Making a home in Oxfordshire has been hard for the Bakir family and they continue to be subjected to bullying by hostile neighbours in the small town where they currently live.
It is a troubling reminder of the tendency to demonise people whose backgrounds are different to our own. We hope that the events organised by KAMA Oxford can help challenge this thinking, and remind us to question such behaviour if we ever see it demonstrated.
Thank you, Muradi, for letting us hear about your experience teaching with KAMA and we look forward to your lessons getting started again in due course!