Fatemeh (Afghanistan) – Student from October 2020 to May 2021
Hi! I’m Fatemeh. I’m 18 years old from Afghanistan.
I was a student of Habibi Center for about 6 months.
I couldn’t communicate with others because I couldn’t speak Greek or English fluently, that’s why I avoided talking to others, and I became a silent and isolated person. That’s not good!
When my friends talked about the Habibi Center, I thought it was a school but it was a house!
Yes, a house!!
A house where teachers are the parents and students are the children.
The first day I met Alex.
I was happy to be able to go to Habibi Center and learn English and be able to connect with the community.
After a while, I felt good that I could more or less do my own thing and participate in discussions (My self-confidence had risen).
In Habibi Center, there are students with different nationalities, customs and languages but, we all spoke the same language and we followed the principle of humanity and equality.
Habibi Center can be considered a small-scale global alliance.
Finally, I thank my teachers Alex, Stephanie, Israe, Jake, Matthew.
Wishing you all the best
Mahamad (Iraq) – Student from January 2020 to May 2021
Hello to everyone!
My name is Mohamad. I am twenty years old and I am from Iraq. I was taking English classes in Habibi Center for one and a half year.
I learned about Habibi Center while I was living in the “Orion” shelter for refugees. After I came from my country of origin, I was hosted in this shelter for many months and the staff proposed to me to begin English lessons there to improve my skills. The truth is that when I entered Greece I could speak only Arabic and it was very difficult for me to communicate with everyone around me. Furthermore, English is the international language and I thought that it would be challenging for me to study it. Apart from the educational level, Habibi Center was a nice opportunity for me to socialize and meet new people, considering the fact that I had just come to Greece and I needed social network and support in every level.
The first days in Habibi Center were challenging and difficult for me. I felt a little bit lost and nervous being in a new place with new people. Also, I was feeling very shy at the beginning and I wanted to avoid the interpersonal contacts, because I could not communicate with them. However, the teacher made me feel comfortable and quickly I started enjoying learning the language. He was very talented in what he was doing and he always found the way to help us. Week by week, I started improving the level of the language and I was finally able to both understand the others and express myself at the same time. I started feeling more self confident and that helped me to come closer to people and make many friends.
Habibi Center was not only a chance for me to learn a new language. It was also a reason, as I mentioned above, to meet new people and become more sociable. The most important thing, though, is that I had the opportunity to meet teachers who taught me important values in life. Only the fact that they were all working voluntarily and at the same time they were enjoying themselves it was very enlightening for me. Furthermore, each of them had different country of origin and we all had the chance to exchange information and enrich our way of thinking by accepting the diversity.
Staying in Greece was very difficult and stressful for me, especially in the beginning. It was a whole new experience for me. Also, I was looking forward to reunify with my brother in Germany and the legal procedures made me very nervous. Habibi Center helped me during all this procedure. I learned how to be patient and living in the moment, although I was thinking all the time about my future. I really improved my social skills, as I said before, because I could finally communicate with others without looking strange to them. The most important thing, though, was that my education there gave me a sense of independence. I could finally move outside alone in the center of Athens, without needing anyone to translate for me or talk instead of me. I could read, I could ask for whatever I needed and for sure I could live better in the shelter, as I started communicating more efficiently with the staff.
Of course what I gave to Habibi Center is nothing comparing to what the people from there gave to me. To be honest, I gave my teachers gratitude and kindness because they deserved it after all those things they offered to all of us. I really felt grateful for the skills I obtained, the human values I was taught, the people I met and the whole experience I had the chance to live. They helped me to grow up and feel more mature in many levels and they made my stay in Greece more interesting, fun and enriching. I hope one day I will be able to work in a place like this and have the chance to offer the same things to other refugees or minorities who need them.
Maher (Iraq) – Student from August 2016 to December 2017
First of all, hello to everyone who’s reading this! My name is Maher, I’m 19 years old and I am from Iraq. I was a student at Habibi Center 5 years ago, I was studying in Habibi Center about a year and a half. As one of the first students of Habibi Center, I think that place is extremely the best thing I have experienced in my life. For me Habibi Center is not a school, for it is a home that I was raised in during the time I was there. Habibi Center gave me the hope I lost after I moved out from Iraq because of the war there. Before Habibi Center was built I was looking somehow to learn English because I knew how important it will be for me to educate myself in Greece. So I met Stephanie in Katsikas. That time she was working in a kitchen where she and some other people were serving food to the refugees in the camp, and she was also giving English lessons to some of my friends. So I liked the idea of it and wanted to learn English as soon as I can. Stephanie helped me by reading books at the beginning, then Habibi Center was built then Stephanie and Toby told us to join the school. My excitement was pure. I can say that I was the happiest person in the world when Habibi Center was opened. The first day and the last day of my journey in Habibi Center was the same, because the people there never saw us but with love, they were a part of us and they still are.
Sahar (Afghanistan) – Student from January 2018 to January 2020
I am Sahar Nazari, 19 years old. I was born in Iran but my nationality is Afghan. Two years ago, I could not speak English or Greek and I wanted to know people, history and society. So, I asked my social worker to go to an English language school. She suggested me Habibi Center. The first day of the class in Habibi Center was normal, but after one month, I was able to notice my academic progress and I had a good relationship with the teachers. Habibi Center wasn’t anymore just a language class for me, it was a school of life that taught me how to live in Europe. Habibi Center taught me how to harmonize with European society, and to realize that I’m an equal, they aren’t better or smarter than me. Taught me to help others with my knowledge or my activity, not just money. Habibi Center gave me a tongue so that I can speak. I can make many friends from all over the world, find work, and travel easily. I even found work in Sweden and I do my online shopping. I did my asylum program in Greece. I can only say thank you from the bottom of my heart HABIBI CENTER.
Arash (Afghanistan) – Student from February 2019 to January 2020
I’m a citizen of Afghanistan. I was born on 5th of June 2002 in Tehran capital city of Iran.
Habibi Center, a small place which doesn’t even look like a school at first glance. When I moved to Athens Greece. I couldn’t speak English except a few simple words so I start looking for an English course and one of my friends told me about Habibi center. Then I found out the WhatsApp number, email and their Facebook account so I wrote them from three different ways and Stephanie thought it was three different people.
The teacher gave me an appointment and I went there for the very first time. I went in through the kitchen to take a test, it was a small and friendly environment. After the exam she decide to put me in a class which was a bit easy for me and then they changed my class to another class and we start learning English and preparing for Cambridge KET Exam (A2) and a few months later for PET (B1).
It didn’t take a long time to become friends with teachers and other students. We were like family, a big family from different countries different cultures and different languages.
I remember Stephanie made us do push-up when we spoke Persian in the class and it was the funniest penalty in our class, I miss those days and you guys so much. I hope I can meet you again in my lifetime.
Now I am in Switzerland and have opened a new page of my life I can speak English and communicate with people only because of Habibi center and I owe this to Habibi center and our teachers. As all of us know when you move to another country language is the most important thing you probably have to deal with and if you don’t know the language you are kind of dumb (mute or speechless).
I just want to thank my teachers Stephanie Martinez, Alex LM, SusanaM.Tercero, Aaron Hackman, Anne Uusitalo and all those who support Habibi Center from around the world Thank you guys so much for every thing you have done for me and for hundreds of refugees who lost their homes their lands who cross the Aegean sea in a plastic boat who run from war and risk their lives to make a better world, a world free of war full of peace and tranquillity.
Mustaeed (Afghanistan) – Student from January 2019 to May 2020
Hello my name is Mustaeed Alizada. I’m 15 years old. I come from Afghanistan. I was a student in Habibi Center for about 1 year. I was living in one shelter house in Athens. I was searching to find English class and I told to my social worker her name is Nancy to find for me English course. We went to the Habibi center with my social workers and the first day I met Stephanie and Alex, two young people with a good character and respectful. The first day I couldn’t speak English but I could understand English. I took a test and the next day I started my lessons. I joined in Habibi Center because I really wanted to learn English and have experience with different people. After a few weeks my English was improving day by day and sometimes I was going with refugee to translate and help them in some office and hospital. Alex and Stephanie tried very hard to get the guys to learn English. They taught us with out us paying money. Also Alex and Stephanie weren’t just teachers they were also friendly and were like part of my family. I learned from Habibi Center humanity respect and I can’t describe it, how good they are and everything was perfect. In new country that I live at the moment, I can’t speak very good German but I solve my problems with English. Also especial thanks to my teachers or my second family Alex and Stephanie that they taught me how to speak English and communicate with people. I hope I could one day give back something good for Habibi Center and make the Habibi Center A bigger school that people can learn English with many facilities.
Chamran – Student from March 2018 to June 2018
Being in Greece as a refugee was hard and it is harder without any communication skills.
Although the official language is Greek, being able to speak a good level of English can decrease your problems.
Since there operate many international organizations and a wide network of volunteers from abroad, English can open many doors for you with new connections.
It was three years ago that I was informed about Habibi Center (Stephanie and Alex) and I decided to attend it back then.
I was in a pre-intermediate class with Stephanie teaching it; this class was really welcoming and you feel at home there. I still remember the friendly circles we used to form during the sessions.
Stephanie and all other teachers were skillful, humble, and passionate. Teaching from personal experience, they were excited to teach you and even to mentor you.
Thanks to that class, my English is so much better than before, and I could already see so much improvement when I was in the class.
I must express the value those teachings brought to my life, writing this testimonial is the least I could do but I hope it inspires you.
Now, these words are to Steph: “Your class was something I looked forward to during my week and I appreciate your generosity and authenticity with your students.”
Habibi Center is great for anyone and I highly recommend it.
N.R (Afghanistan) – Student from June 2018 to July 2019
My name is N. R. I’m 17 years old, from Afghanistan. I started at Habibi Center in September 2018. I found Habibi Center through my friends. I join Habibi Center to learn English language better. I met Stephanie in my first day and she was very kind and friendly to me like always. She asked some questions and gave a paper to write then she told me that I can join Habibi Center. I was very happy that day. I had different teachers in Habibi Center and I learned a lot from each of them. Alex , Nicole, Evjia, Stephanie. In first day of class I felt very happy Alex was my teacher. He is the perfect man, kind, honest. He taught me how to write properly. Then I had Nicole as a teacher. I learned how to write a letter or a story. Evjia, she is the most beautiful woman that I know. I was feeling very good with her. learned grammar with her. Stephanie, she was working with us for Cambridge Exam. Although sometimes I was skipping my homework. After a few weeks, I felt very close with all of my teachers. I felt that I am not alone anymore in Greece. When ever I had problems, I could talk with my teachers and discuss about the things. At that time that Stephanie and Evjia escorted me to Habibi Center because of the problems that I had I was not allowed to go alone out and they were coming every day to pick me up with a smile. I will never forget and I am really grateful to have them in my life and even now we have contact together. My teachers help me a lo. By learning the language I didn’t have fear to go out and talk to people. I did the Exam and I got A2 certificate from Cambidge. Habibi Center helped me a lot in Greece. After a while when ever I had a appointment I didn’t want to have a translator to translate for me. I am living in Germany now. When I came to Germany because I learned English good in Greece I didn’t have any problem to talk and go out or ask for something, and I learned the language so fast because of the English that I learned in Habibi Center. Habibi Center doesn’t give you language, it is place that a lot of people talk, understand and connect with each other from different countries, language, nationalities and religion and colors. Stephanie even though I made you mad sometimes, I really feel proud that I met you and all of my teachers. I wish that I become like you one day, a very strong woman. Thank you for each of your minutes that you guys gave for us.
David (Afghanistan) – Student from January 2019 to August 2019
Hello I’m David. My beautiful teacher and I together chose this name for me. My nationality is Afghan and I’m living in UK at the moment. For almost 8 months, I had this chance to be one of the Habibi Center’s students, so we can say that in this case I was lucky. I don’t know how I can describe teachers there, but I can say everything was perfect and I saw God in their hearts. They were the ones who loved us without us being their family. They taught us language without taking money from us. They provided place for education without asking us for money. The teachers from the Habibi Center were incredibly kind and honest. They were working hard to teach and help their students. That’s why after 2 months I didn’t feel I’m a student in Habibi Center. I felt we are a family from different places full of love and happiness and Habibi Center helped made it possible. Mr. Alex, Mr. Vaggelis and Stephanie looked after us and our lessons, like a bigger sister and brother. Yes, they are my second family and they will be. I have a lot of wonderful memories from there and I will never forget them. I was always ready to go to Habibi Center, I never felt tired. Our teachers were always full of positive energy and smiles on their face. It helped us to learn the lessons easily. When I started to learning English language at Habibi Center I knew only a few words but after a few months I could speak so much. And that was because of my teachers’ efforts for me. I’m not going to say my English is perfect but I can speaking, reading, writing, communicate and make friends with English people. I owe this to the Habibi Center. Doing what I said would not be easy work without the help of the Habibi Center. In addition to language, they taught and showed the true meaning of humanity to me. I was good at growing in my body but they were the ones who helped me grow my mind. I love them and I appreciate them. And a special thanks to those who support the Habibi Center. I love you all.
Jaafar (Afghanistan) – Student from October 2018 to July 2019
My name is Jaafar. I am 19 years old and I am from Afghanistan. At the moment I live in London capital city of England. I left Afghanistan in January 2014, I went to Iran and I stayed there for three years. After these much time I left Iran and then I went to Turkey. When I arrived in Turkey I found many problems. Because I didn’t know any languages and I couldn’t communicate with other people. I was like a dumb person, and I didn’t feel comfortable wherever I was going. So that time I decided to learn English language. But unfortunately it was so tricky to find an English course in Turkey for me. After a few months I left Turkey and then I went to Chios island of Greece. There I found an English course. And I went to that classes. So I have learned English alphabet with some vocabularies there. And then I went to Athens capital city of Greece. When I come to Athens, I was trying to find a new English course. Because I wanted to improve my English language and I didn’t want to stop halfway. Finally I met a new friend. He were studying English at Habibi Centre. I asked him about Habibi Centre how it is. And then he described Habibi Centre to me. I was really really excited to go there. So when we got there, then I rang the doorbell. A young lady opened the door with a smile and kindness. She greeted me very respectfully, and welcomed us. I was really impressed with her respectful, with a smiling face and beautiful demeanor. After that I asked her if it’s possible to register there. And she said yeah why not. Then she took my WhatsApp number, because that time she had teach her students. And she said I will let you know, at what time you should become. The next day she texted to me, to come the Habibi Centre. So the next day I went to the Habibi Centre, then she gave me a small test, because to find out my level. After test, she told me that could you come to the class tomorrow. At that moment I was really happy and excited. I said yeah yeah, tomorrow I will be here. Even on the first day, I felt comfortable, because she had putted me the same class with my new friend and also the other students were looks nice to me. I was student in Habibi Centre for 9 months. When I started English in Habibi Centre, I could not speak English. But I could understand a little bit. After start, day by day my English has improved in Habibi Centre. Because our teachers taught with love and affection for us. They were working really hard to teach us how to be comfortable, and how make communicate with others people. when I was studying in Habibi Centre. One day I realized we are a big family here, we had respect to each other, and we were happy all the times. We had a lot of fun in HabibiCentre, while studying, for example we played football, went to the beach and joking together. At Habibi Centre I didn’t only learned English. But also learned how to be kind, polite, having good behavior with big small, understanding others, and showing respect to every single one. I will ever never forget those unforgettable moments. We are thankful of the teachers and everyone who mate it possible for us. Result studying at Habibi Centre. One . I’ve learned a lot of things, could say like writing, reading, and so much English vocabularies. Two. I met wonderful people, relationship, and honesty. Three, Habibi Centre changed my life and guided me in the right direction. At the moment I feel so comfortable and now I can communicate with different people very easily. I’m always thankful of those who did their best for us at Habibi Centre. I can’t describe Habibi Centre in a few words, with their amazing people and their biggest hearts. Have to say again million million thanks to Habibi Centre and everyone who made possible for us.
Reflective (Pakistan) – Student since February 2019
Habibi Center, it may sound like just a name but it’s more than just a name. It’s very important to us and personally, to me. It’s my heartbeats and without heartbeats, no one can live so do I and I am sure I am not the only one who feels like this. Habibi Center boosts confidence and apart from studying teaches us to establish and maintain things in every condition, and helps us learn how to work together as a team, which is a primary tenet of any successful society. Habibi Center is a place where we learn enough worthwhile things to make a strong start in life and where we develop the desire to learn more. All the credit goes to those who ran Habibi Center.
I’m so grateful that I am part of the Habibi Center. Thank you, Miss Stephanie, for emboldening me. Your positivity and encouragement brightened my days. You made me a better, more thoughtful person. You are one of the sweetest people and teachers I’ve ever known.
Aziza (Iraq) – Student from August 2016 to January 2017
My name is Aziza. I am 18 years old and I am from Iraq.
When I was 15, I went to Greece and everything was very difficult for us: to speak English and to know other people. I lost my friends and everything in my country and I was so lonely. My hopes were cut in school. I thought that I would never be able to go to school again, but one day I moved to a camp in Katsikas with my family and met new people and got to know friends in Katsikas.
One day I was looking at people and I told myself how they can speak English because learning English was one of my dreams. Next day Steph and Toby came and they asked us if we wanted to join Habibi Center to learn English language and how to use computers. I was so happy and I said of course I will come to Habibi Center and I want to learn English. Our wish was to learn English. The teachers taught us English and opened a school for us. They all taught us, helped, and gave us a new life. I remember my fırst day in Habibi Center had mixed feelings. I was a little nervous, a bit scared and very excited to meet new people. A few weeks later my feelings changed as time passed by. After that I wasn’t anxious anymore and I was satisfied to learn English and I met many friends.
I don’t know what to say. I can’t describe Habibi Center in a few words. When I arrived in Germany the English language helped me a lot. I had very nice teachers and I had a lot of contact with them. I learned a lot and had so much fun. We were like one family together. In short, Habibi Center was my second family. Thanks for everything and for teaching us. I will never forget that. I hope to see you all again Toby, Stephanie, Pablo, Alex, Eva, Anne, Emilio, Martin, Gomi, all teachers…
Bushra (Syria) – Student from January 2018 to November 2018
My name is Bushra. I’m from Syria. I’m 18 years old. I came to Athens when I was 17 years old.
One day I was so upset because I am losing my future and my big dreams and it’s really hard to start from zero but I said to myself I have to be more patient and stronger to face this hard circumstances. Next day I heard about Jasmine she is pretty good girl and she is the same age and she is studying English in Habibi Center. Then I decided to meet Jasmine to ask her about Habibi Center.
I was really excited to continue studying English because I had already a little bit in my school in Syria. I went to Habibi Center and I meet kind teachers and they helped me to improve my skills in English. After 3 months my teacher told me you are ready now to do B1 exam. I was really happy and surprised because in a short time I achieved what I want with my lovely teachers’ help. After studying in Habibi Center I traveled to Germany and now I am working as a translator for refugees from English to Arabic for 6 months.
I’m really thankful to Habibi Center.
M-Rateb (Syria) – Student from March 2018 to December 2018
I was a student in Habibi Center for more than 8 months. I was studying in another school (Greek public school) before I got to know Habibi Center. My friends used to study there and they told me about the center and how it works. I went there after I got the address and I registered with them and they told me: “you can start from tomorrow afternoon”. Actually I went because I wanted to improve my English language.
Honestly I was a little bit nervous because I had to make new friends and new teachers. I was like that around 1 week. The week after I felt the teachers knew me from a long time ago because they were so friendly and the students were amazing.
I spent a lovely time in Habibi Center and I’ve learned a lot of things like reading, writing, new words and all that because of the teachers. I really miss Habibi Center and the teachers who are working there.
I’m now living in UK (London). I’m very happy to live here and I can use the English language because I’ve learned the correct grammar from the Habibi Center.
Big thanks to the teachers and Habibi Center and to everyone who contributed to it.
Layla (Iraq) – Student from August 2016 to December 2017
My name is Layla and I’m from Iraq. Going to Habibi Center wasn’t only an opportunity for me to learn English but also a place to get my mind off of everything I was going through at the time. I will never forget the time I spent with all the incredible people I met there.
It was another normal day of my life doing absolutely nothing, when a teacher (Toby) and one of my friends asked me if I wanted to go to school. I couldn’t believe what I just heard to be honest. They said that I’m gonna be taking English and Computer classes. I was excited to finally learn English so that I could communicate with people from different countries and help others translate. The first day of school, we’re only two girls and the others were all boys. Each of us got a camera and we went to different places (restaurants, cafés, streets, etc.) to take pictures. Then we got back to school and we were asked to make different facial expressions. I chose SAD because I was too shy to show my face and that way I could cover it. Then we took photos of each other and had fun scanning them.
The next day I started English classes and I had a feeling I was already improving. Weeks went by and more and more people joined the school, which made everything even more amazing than it already was. I would wake up every day and be eager to go to school and see all of my favourite people. I mean, isn’t it everyone’s dream to spend time with people they love while learning something super important? After some time there were more classes (Art, Math, German, Greek and German) If I didn’t go to Habibi Center I wouldn’t be able to help my family in any way, I mean I was living with my grandparents and they were sick almost all the time and someone needed to stay with them at the hospital to translate and of course that someone was me.
Despite the circumstances, the teachers encouraged me to learn for my Cambridge English exams. I’m so beyond thankful that they paid for and prepared everything. I took it three times alongside my friends until I got to level B1. People always told me to stop learning English because they thought that I was gonna forget it anyways, but I never listened to any of that. When I got to Germany, I of course had a lot papers to do and I couldn’t do any of that without the help of English. Even now (after two years of living in Germany) I speak English whenever people don’t understand me.
I’m grateful from the bottom of my heart for everything Habibi Center has helped me with until now. I really don’t know how I would’ve done this without everyone’s help. My teacher (Stephanie) is the most amazing and inspiring person I’ve ever met in my life. Whenever it comes to helping others she’s the first to be there. One day I would like to be just like her.
Jasmin (Syria) – Student from August 2016 to May 2018
I am Jasmin and I am from Syria. Right now I live with my family in the south of Germany. Everyday I and my siblings go to school and our life is going well, but 3 years ago, I was 15 years old, and it wasn’t like this. I was with my mother, big sister and 4 brothers is Greece. We were in a village where we lived in a big camp with many people who wanted to travel to another country like us but we couldn’t travel because the border between Greece and Germany was closed. It was a very bad life because we lived in a tent and we couldn’t go to school. It was cold then but we didn’t give up.
My brother met a young woman who made a place to teach young people how to read and write because there were too many people who didn’t know how to read in their mother language. From the beginning I heard that she made bread for people who didn’t have money, then she made a place, which is called Habibi Center. I didn’t go there but my brother went because he needed to go more than me. After 4 months, I started to go and learn English and Maths. I learned how to read and write in English and so many funny things. But luck wasn’t with us because she planned to move the school to the capital of Greece. In that time we couldn’t change our place because of our organisation. I was sad but it wasn’t the end, don’t stop reading.
After 4 months our organization told us that we have to go to the same city where my teacher was. I was happy to hear that. We changed our place to the capital city of Greece. My teacher rented a house there and started to teach English. She had so many students from all the world. Some other teachers wanted to teach there too. I can’t explain how friendly and lovable they were. In short, they are the best people I met in my life.
After the hard times, I was enthusiastic to learn more English but it was nicer when I met a friend who wanted to learn too. She was Bushra and she is the same age as me and she also came from Syria. We improved our English very fast that’s why we did B1 together. Before she came to that class I did the A2 exam with other students. Every day I had 2 hours with students who were in the same level as me. Some of them had school before that course but they came because they liked to have lessons with our teacher.
I will never forget what I learned from her and I am going to do the same thing as her one day and help people. There are too many things I would like to tell you about but it’s going to be too long. I admire people who think about other people.
Raid (Iraq) – Student from August 2016 to October 2017
My name is Raid. I am 17 years old and I am from Iraq. When I was in Turkey I was trying to learn English because I knew that English is very important and global. After the borders opened between Turkey and Greece, we came by boat to Greece.
Before Habibi Center was founded I met the teachers at Habibi Kitchen which was a kitchen that cooked food for us and all the refugees who were in that camp. I was helping them in the kitchen. Actually I was not thinking of studying English at the kitchen but they told me and other guys that we have to learn English one hour every day and I was so happy to have this opportunity because it was always my dream to speak English fluently. After the kitchen was closed Steph and Toby, who were working as volunteers and teaching us English in the kitchen at the same time, decided to open the Habibi Center.
At the beginning of Habibi Center I could not actually go to Habibi Center every day because I was often busy with translating in hospitals inside the camp. I was going to Habibi whenever I had time because I knew that I can improve my English. We were going to Habibi Center on foot but then they rented a bus. The bus was coming to the camp, picking us up and bringing us to camp after school. After, UNHCR decided to separate the people who were in the camp, taking part of us to another village, but the teachers did not leave us. They had the bus pick us up from there also and bring us to Habibi Center.
After almost six months, UNHCR decided to move us again but this time was to Athens. After this decision I lost hope of ever going to Habibi Center and it was very difficult for me to leave people that I spent the best days of my life with and people that taught me English. After we moved, the teachers came to us in Athens. One teacher left because he had to go back home and there was only one teacher with us, which was Steph. She said that we are gonna open Habibi Center here. I was surprised and at the same time happy. I said that is gonna be great and I will be able to improve my English more and more.
Steph could not find somewhere to teach us in the beginning. Then she said that we will go to an Internet Café to study on the computers. We were doing our tasks in English and Math and sending on the internet to our teachers in Spain and England. Steph helped us and taught us to work and she and Toby and Alex were uploading tasks. We were doing these tasks and sending back to them to check it. After a couple days, Steph found an apartment and we were going there every day.
After studying for almost six months in Athens, the teachers came up with an idea of doing Cambridge exams. At the beginning I did not know anything about that but Steph explained to us how it is. I took A2 exam and I did not pass. Then, after 2-3 months I tried again and this time I passed. After my friends and I passed A2 exam, she started to prepare us for B1 exam. At this time my family was accepted to go to Germany. Two of my friends did not take B1 exam because they went to Germany before the exam. Two other friends and I took the B1 exam. After we took the exam, we came to Germany. I was very happy when I heard that I passed the exam and then, after Steph got a Certificate, she sent it to me to Germany
After being here in Germany for almost one year Steph asked me and my friends if we can meet again and we said okay. Then she came to Germany with Adam and taught us English here also. She wanted us to do B2 exam. We studied English for almost three weeks but we did not take the B2 exam because we did not have enough time to study for it. But we learned a lot of things.
I am now living in Germany and I am still able to speak English. I will take the B2 exam as soon as I get enough education for it. I always say that I was lucky to meet these kind people. I am very happy that I was a student in Habibi Center and I thank the teachers and everyone who made this great school possible.
From my heart, Raid Youssef
Sherif (Syria) – Student from January 2019 to November 2019
I’m Sherif. I was a student in Habibi Center for 10 months. I was studying at another school before Habibi Center. Then my old school closed and my teacher told me: “there is another school and we will go there to register you”. I accepted immediately because I wanted to improve my English language and I did not want to stop halfway. Then I went and spoke with the new teacher and I took a simple test to find out my level and the right class for me.
The next day of the registration was my first day in school. I was not comfortable because the place, students and teachers were new to me. In very short time it became very comfortable for me, I got used to the place and I made many new friendships.
There is usually a distance between students and teachers, but here we felt as if teachers were our friends and our siblings.
In those 10 months, I learned a lot and my English improved a lot. With the help of teachers and the school I could take the KET Cambridge exam, and I passed it with high marks I’d never expected! This is all thanks to the teaching and effort of teachers with me and with all students. The level of education is high and that helped me to improve more and more.
I spent a really great time in Habibi Center with lovely friends and teachers while I was studying there. I hope I’ll be back there someday to visit that cosy place and their great people.
Thanks to Habibi Center and to everyone who makes it possible!
Marwa (Afghanistan) – Student from March 2018 to May 2019
It was a warm day of March when I came to a shelter. I couldn’t speak English but I could understand a bit. I was worried about my future and what will happen. All that without being able to communicate very well.
After a couple of days the social worker of my shelter told me that I will go to an English school called Habibi Center to learn English. In those days I wasn’t well because I missed my family and it was almost 3 months I left them. After 3 months I had found a place where I felt safe and I thought: “okay, I will go but I don’t have money to pay”. With so much suffering I told my social worker: “I don’t want to go because I don’t have money to pay for going to this English school”. She laughed and said: “you don’t need to pay. It’s a free school. You can go and learn English without paying”. I couldn’t believe and she told me that some girls of my shelter were already going to Habibi Center. When the girls of my shelter came from school I asked one of them and she told me: “yeah, Habibi Center is for us like our second home and you don’t need to pay for learning there”.
I was still doubtful but the next day came and I prepared myself to go there with one of the girls because I didn’t know how to get there. When I reached the school, a girl opened the door and I saw an angel with a peaceful smile. She welcomed us and then she gave me a small test to know my level. After that test she told me: “you are good at learning and there is no need you start in Basic English”. I started coming to Habibi Center every day from 10:00 to 11:30.
I remember that every day I was with a special passion and interest in coming to class and day by day I improved and I made friends. I remember every night that I thought about Habibi Center before going to sleep.
The days quickly passed until my teacher said: “we are near to a big exam and you all guys should more push themselves for this exam. That moment I couldn’t understand which exam he was talking about and why we should take this exam. And I was a little bit shy and I didn’t ask about the details of this exam. After class I asked my friends and they told me: “it’s a Cambridge English exam and there is one every 6 months in Athens. The school will pay for it and we can get a certificate from Cambridge to show how much we learned English and open a shine way for our future because English is nowadays an international language”. When I heard all of that I was in shock and I couldn’t express my emotions about how nice my teachers were to sacrifice their time and money to help us to learn a language. That day tears ran down my face and I cried inconsolably. I will never forget that unforgettable day.
Everyday we were going to Habibi Center with willpower and a hard working attitude to pass the Cambridge exam. The day of the exam came and I remembered I had stress but, when I looked at my teacher how they encouraged us for take a good result, my stress changed to power, not only for taking a good result but to make them happy for all the hard work they did for us.
After that exam I took an A2 Certificate and because I had to travel to Netherlands for living l couldn’t continue at Habibi Center.
It was the 5th of May when I left my sweet home, Habibi Center. And on the 8th of May I also left Greece to go to the Netherlands. I should mention that by the blessing of Habibi Center I can speak well English in here and express myself in English.
Sometimes when people ask me: “how did you learn English?”, I tell them about Habibi Center and my teachers. They can’t believe that within a year I was able to learn English so well.
I appreciate my teachers and I want to say thank you for all the hard work and sacrifice teaching English to refugees’ girls and boys to have a good future.
You are unforgettable in our hearts.
With love from the bottom of my heart,
Nargis (Afghanistan) – Student from August 2017 to April 2019
I am Nargis. I am 19 years old. I am from Afghanistan and I am living in Athens, Greece. It was two years ago when I met my future teacher in my shelter. That time I was living in Attiki. One day I was studying with my computer teacher in the corridor. It was in the afternoon when I saw that two girls came in my shelter. “Who are they?” I asked my social worker. “They are volunteers. They are teaching English,” she told me. Then my future teacher came and said hello to me. We met each other and she explained to me about her work in Greece and invited me to attend her classes. When I heard that, I was excited. I went to tell my social worker that I wanted to join Habibi Center, but she ignored me. “We don’t allow you because that area is dangerous for girls,” she said. But I didn’t give up and one day I called my future teacher and I said to her, “I want to be your student”. I was worried if she didn’t accept me, but when I called her and I asked, “can I attend your class?” she said, “Of course you can”. I felt a positive energy. When she invited me to see the school it was unbelievable because she came and picked me up from the metro station. I was surprised because I had never seen something like that in my whole life, even in my country. Her behaviour was so good and friendly. The first week that I came to Habibi Center I hid it from my shelter. After that, I explained to my shelter that there was a good teacher in that centre and she taught me very well. Finally, my shelter allowed me to go there.
It was very difficult for me to come to Habibi Center because I had Greek school and English class and I didn’t have time to eat lunch because I was finishing my Greek school at 2:30pm and I arrived to Habibi Center at 3:20pm. I loved the way my teacher taught me. I was very interested in Habibi Center. She also encouraged me to keep studying. It was like my sister was talking to me. I went to many courses in Athens, but I didn’t find out anything like Habibi Center. The other schools taught me the same lessons every day. For example, if one new student came to class, the teachers taught us the same things. Also, when teachers changed for a new one, we repeated again and again. I was bored with those lessons, so in Habibi Center I found my future. I have been there since 2017. Habibi Center has helped me to get three Cambridge certificates. Speaking, reading and writing in English and everything else that I have achieved are because of the hard work of my teachers.
Then, I changed my teacher for some months and I met other of my best teachers. I was fasting so I didn’t eat during the day. Also, I had Greek school, but I didn’t stop coming to Habibi Center because that new teacher taught us very well. I was working hard, but I missed her classes because I was looking for a job. My teachers encouraged me to be an independent person. They helped me and they taught me how to speak to get the job and how to write the CV. So I got the job and I was very happy. But I was stressed and very worried about my English classes. I said to myself, “if I leave Athens and I come back, will she accept me to continue my studies in Habibi Center or not?” So I asked my teacher and she told me that there was no problem. I was very excited that I heard this from her.
I don’t have my family with me. That time I wanted to start my job, but I didn’t have even one euro to live one month on my own until I took my first salary. My teachers helped me and they lent me money. From that time until now I don’t think the Habibi Center is only a school for me. It is also my family. I have learned how to help each other, how to be friendly and how to respect each other. When I am going there I feel I am in my home with my family. The behaviour of my teachers is very nice and friendly. I have never forgotten the day when I had exams in my Greek school. I came back from my work in Santorini and my flight was at 12 o’clock in the midnight and it was delayed for one hour. It was very late in the night and my teachers came to pick me up to the station. It was again surprising for me and I cried. When they hug me I felt I was not alone anymore. I have some family in Habibi Center.
After a few months, I finished with my job and I came back to Athens. I started again my studies in Habibi Center. This time I changed again my teacher. He is other of my best teachers. I changed my time to go there in the evenings and it was late and dark to go back home. Sometimes, my teachers came with me to the metro station and sometimes until my shelter.
I think that I didn’t pass the B1 exam because when I went for work I had spoken in Greek and I stopped my English studies. But I didn’t give up and I kept trying and trying. I attended all classes and I studied hard. Also, it was thanks to the hard work of my teachers that I passed the B1 exam.
I am very happy that I have them with me. I really love them. They are the best teachers in my whole life.