Tareq has just finished his bachelor's degree in Dentistry at Tishreen University in Latakia, Syria: “It’s a coastal city that has witnessed war for some time but now is relatively peaceful and stable”, he explains.
“The 10-year crisis isolated Syria and Syrians from the outer world, even online. The discrimination Syrians are experiencing is massive, and thus, we as youth, lost our chance to connect or get our voices heard.
It is harder than ever to get a VISA abroad to pursue higher education. That's why I loved Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange activities. I got to learn by watching top academics’ videos which boosted my dream of studying abroad. I met foreigners who are willing to listen and discuss different topics without any prior prejudice. I also got the chance to express myself proving that stereotyping Syrians for the situation the country is going through is wrong.”
Tareq joined the Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange project before graduation. “Although my field of study seems irrelevant, I developed an interest in multiple other fields, to the point I may consider a career change in the future. Immigration, peace, and other social-related topics are one of those interests”.
Tareq is passionate about learning and found in Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange a unique opportunity that provides “much food for thought”:
“I spend a lot of time reading and seeking further information. I always thought that learning is a never-ending journey.
Online course platforms, such as Coursera, EdX, are focused on the scientific material with limited to no interaction with tutors or fellow peers. The studying journey, for me, is somewhat boring since I have to watch many videos and do all the homework myself, with limited communicating or support. Therefore, as the course goes by, my enthusiasm decreases until I drop out .
Another important difference between online courses and Virtual Exchange is that assignments of the courses test our ability to memorise information and understanding, but they rarely ask about our thoughts or reflections on the course contents.
Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange offers a completely different experience. Virtual Exchange aims to dive participants deeply into certain topics and then let them discuss it together, with the help of facilitators. The assignments are about reflecting on the topic or discovering people's thoughts or opinions.
However, the need to be present at a particular time each week proved to be difficult for me and for many other Syrians I know. Load shedding has been a part of Syrians' life for a long time now. Not to mention, internet issues like slowness or limiting bandwidth”.