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Born in Syria: Education Outside of Home

Born in Syria is a 2017 documentary film that traces the lives of seven refugee children as they try to make their way to Europe and subsequently, struggle to integrate into the new environment. A key aspect that the film highlights is the struggle of refugee children to attain quality education in European countries, which are ethnically, culturally, and linguistically different from the Middle East.


Hamude, an 8-year-old child, having immigrated to Germany with his uncle, is shown to have no German friends at his school because learning the language for him is a strenuous task and he is only able to pick up a few words. This language gap, therefore, acts as a barrier for Syrian refugee children to access to Germany’s free education system. Similarly, Marwan, a 13-year-old child, living in Belgium finds it hard to pick up on the French language as he says, “There are letters that you pronounce, but don’t write, or write but don’t pronounce”. This is a significant change from the Arabic language that Marwan has grown up writing and conversing in, and for him to adjust to the new script and pronunciations within the span of a few weeks in order to assimilate into the new environment after having gone through the traumatic journey from Syria to Belgium shows the psychological pressure upon refugee children.


The documentary also covers the journey of a 13-year-old girl named Jihan, who lived in Lebanon for four years after leaving Syria and before going to Europe. Jihan recalls how she was bullied at her Lebanese school solely because of her identity as a Syrian child. This ultimately led her to lash out on her peers, which got her expelled and she thus, was not able to continue her education. Jihan’s story is an example of the dire need for psychological support for refugee children in host country schools to help them deal with the trauma and emotions that the war and its after-math leave them with.


The documentary brings to light the urgent need for psychological and language support for refugee children in foreign countries. If their goal is to house these refugees permanently, these host countries must first consider adequate provision of counselling services to aid students primarily in their mental health. Having persisted for over a decade, it is pertinent that the international community takes serious decisions on the handling of the Syrian refugee crisis and the education of children affected by this conflict.

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great post!

the discrimination refugee students have to face in host countries is a sad reality. these kids have seen war in their homeland and have to face rude behavior in classrooms from their peers. in the context of European countries, the race, ethnicity, religion, language and so many other factors may differ, but even in countries like turkey and Lebanon, the general narrative and sentiment about the refugees is not very positive. and when it comes to students, who are literally kids or teenagers, its disturbing to even see their realities being depicted in such documentaries. nevertheless, with the awareness these documentaries are creating, it is imperative for the states to take necessary actions. your post depicts the issues…

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The debate about expelling refugee students from schools is something I find interesting. On one side, schools within host countries have a responsibility to safeguard their own students, while on the other hand, it is imperative to understand that most of refugee students suffer from PTSD or other forms mental trauma, which can result in rash behaviors. But how do you reconcile these two factors? This is similar to the conversations we had in class about how refugees tend to get involved in criminal activities in countries that host them and so, what measures should these nations take? In terms of schooling, I believe international communities can make the environment more inclusive by creating awareness about refugees and their journeys,…

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There are 2 things I noted from this post.

The first is that, while it is obvious that countries like Syria and European countries would obviously have a lot of differentiating factors for their people (like culture, language, etc) but you might not expect that countries like Syria and Lebanon would have many of these differences (obviously, they will have some).

Now, you might bring up the point we have discussed in our course that for countries to properly cater to refugees, they need to know how long the refugees will be staying. However, can we not assume that, given the state of these countries, it seems like they do not even have a sufficient guiding plan for a very…

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In response to your first point, it is true that countries like Syria and Lebanon have relatively less differentiating factors, however, the issue Syrian students face in Lebanon is more specifically of bullying due to the rising resentment among Lebanese citizens with regards to Syrian refugees. This is due to the narrative that is pushed by certain political elites that the country's economic, social and security failures can be blamed on the influx of Syrian refugees. Secondly, I agree that there is lack of willingness from certain countries to properly cater to refugees even in the short run. As I just mentioned, certain factions of the leading political elite in Lebanon have been propagating a discourse blaming the country's problems…

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We can look at this situation from an intersectional lens as well: religion, language, ethnicity of the refugees intertwining and creating difficulties in the context of education. Syrian Refugees in the US are stigmatized by association with terrorism because of stereotypes associated with their religion and ethnicity and I strongly agree with the point on language because it is one of the biggest barriers that the refugees face when trying to settle into schools/colleges. They are not as fluent in English as their American peers or some don't even know how to speak the language at all. This means they fail to understand the concepts or interact with the peers and teachers further restricting their chances of settling in smooth…

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Your recommendation about programs like adult literacy education is interesting, however, the question then arises: would this be a sustainable approach? As you mentioned, publicly funded community-based organizations provide these, but with the rising Islamophobia in the West and discrimination against Muslims and Middle Eastern individuals, would these funds be available in the long-run? Moreover, would they be adequate enough for the millions of refugees that have fled their homes since 2011? Although I believe these measures could prove useful in the short-run, the long-run would require governments of host countries to sit down and come up with a proper, sustainable policy.

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