Testimonials: Students

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,

Marwa

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.