CAMBRIDGE EXAMS: MAY 2021

We received some weeks ago the results of the B2, B1, and A2 Cambridge exams that 11 of our students took in May 2021. We couldn´t be happier!

For the first time in our 5 years of life, 1 student, who started with us 2 years and a half ago, was ready to take the B2 level exam. He worked really hard despite all the disruptions due to Covid-19 and, although he missed the passing score just by a few points, we feel extremely proud of him.

Regarding the students who took the B1 and A2 exams, 4 and 6 students respectively, we also felt amazed not only because they all passed their respective exams but also because of their excellent scores. These high marks show how hard they all worked during the long preparation period.

The brilliant marks and its academic value are not the only positive side of these exams. Once again and even more importantly, it has been their change of mentality and personal growth. The self-confidence and self-esteem gained with this experience will definitely help them face and achieve new challenges in life.

This success couldn’t have been achieved without the help of all of you who supported the Habibi Center in order to cover the registration of the students as well as all the material needed during the entire preparation period. Thanks a million to all of you scattered across Scotland, England and Málaga (Spain).

The Habibi Center Team
03.09.21

INTERNATIONAL BOOK DAY

POWERFUL WEAPONS

The Habibi Center opened its doors nearly 5 years ago to support a specific group of the population: young refugees who had fled their countries of origin in order to find a safer and more prosperous future in Europe. Refugees, regardless their age, are usually silenced, forgotten, and neglected worldwide. In addition, in many occasions, they remain locked up in camps for months, as if they were a threat for the rest of society. Despite those detrimental injustices, powerful main stream media and other authorities barely call attention to this issue. However, when they occasionally do so, it seems like they prefer to prioritise profitable and biased over real content.

 

Since March 2020, when governments worldwide ordered everybody to remain indoors due to the dangers of Covid-19, every one of us has been pushed to change our lifestyles. The several traumatic lockdowns suffered in most of the developed countries have triggered many profound changes, for example making teleworking almost compulsory for the vast majority of people and making online lessons in schools and universities the only way for young people to continue their studies.

Nowadays, words like Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams are embedded in most of our lives. For many months, the only way children and adults have been able to communicate with others has been by playing online videogames, and the only way they have had to be entertained has been by watching television or eating up Netflix content without a break. The so-called “New Normal” that mainstream media and other authorities try to pressure seems to be fully technology dependant, with virtual relationships, endless time consumed in front of screens, and knowledge gained through video content.

On the other hand, cultural and other activities that create a sense of community and human bonding, such as cinemas, theatres, sport, and music concerts have been radically suppressed. Moreover, libraries have dramatically suffered the consequences of lockdown policies and have been disregarded as a secondary need by authorities although books have been historically considered a powerful weapon to acquire knowledge and help develop countless human abilities.It’s undeniable that audio-visual technology has been able to provide extremely high-quality content for the last 10 years. Unfortunately, that overdose of daily consumed technology has also triggered the diagnosis of new disorders, such as the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Therefore, although advertisements bombard us 24/7 so that we keep consuming new audio-visual content or buying the most up-to-date gadgets, we should balance the situation and embrace books once again.

It’s difficult to imagine life without books and the absence of the unique beneficial effects that they are able to produce in our brains. For example, unlike audio-visual content which adversely overstimulates people with incessant sounds and imagines, reading a book boosts concentration, which might help us at any stage in our lives to successfully focus on any goals we want to achieve. In addition, reading books helps develop greater creativity and imagination than watching a movie or playing a videogame. Interestingly, as it has been proved over the last decades, developing creativity and imagination foster critical thinking, decision-making, and creative problem solving.

As it is with refugees, who feel silenced, forgotten, and neglected, books need our support in these difficult moments. As it is with refugees, books must be part of our society. Long life to these powerful weapons, full of words and knowledge instead of bullets, which help build a better world with independent, empathetic, and healthier individuals.

23.4.21

Cambridge Exams & Lockdown!

Last September 2020, the Habibi Center felt enthusiastic about filling in the registration forms so that new students could take Cambridge exams on the 5 December (4 students for A2 level and 3 for B1 level). Unfortunately, as a result of the strict lockdown imposed by Greek authorities since last 7 November, the dates of those exams have already been postponed 4 times (19 December, early February, 20 March, and now 29 May).

 

It is not an easy task to register our students to take those Cambridge exams as there are usually some changes from the day we pay until the exam’s date. One of the main issues is that students don’t show as much commitment as the Habibi Center’s team expects. That lack of commitment might be due to several factors usually seen in the refugee youth, such as low self-confidence and fear to face a new failure in life, as well as lack of focus as a result of their unstable legal situation full of uncertainty, sudden interviews with their lawyers and constant issues with their asylum documents. In addition to that regularly occurring scenario, we are quite concerned about the detrimental consequences of the strict lockdowns imposed by Greek authorities since the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic in March 2020. The suspension of most of the educational programmes that refugee youth were able to attend, owing to these extreme movement restrictions, have triggered an important increase of depressive cases. As a result, the fragile sense of structure and routine provided for a long time by all those educational programmes, including the Habibi Center, has been dramatically disrupted. For example, only focusing on the 8 students registered last September to take one of the Cambridge exams, 3 of them have had to stop attending the Habibi Center and been withdrawn from the exams due to those common negative factors, which have been radically worsened by the Covid-19 restrictive measures.

Right now, our primary wish is that free movement is restored as soon as possible and everybody is able to continue living their lives as before. Although all these current restrictions are affecting most of us considerably, they do affect refugee youth to a greater degree. Another clear example is in regard to these Cambridge exams as many Greek teenagers will be able to take them in the near future when the current situation improves, but some of our students will not. As a result of the measures suffered since March 2020, their only chance already passed and they are no longer part of the Habibi Center due to 2 main reasons: relocations to other countries or their feared adulthood, which pushes most of them to stop studying in order to find a job and sustain their independent lives. Despite all these added challenges, we, teachers and students, continue pushing as much as we can.

We would like to thank our friends in the U.K. who donated some money last year to register some students, as well as some others who have recently helped us with the registration of 6 other students who started preparing for the A2 exam and 1 for the B2 exam last January 2021. Your money will, hopefully, pay off in the end of May. Finally, we would also like to express our immense gratitude to the British Council Athens (organisation through which we have been registering our students since the end of 2017) for considering our special needs, understanding the unstable legal situation of our students, and kindly allowing our requested changes.

 

02.04.2021