Asmaa can only be described as the modern working woman. Not only did she launch her own language learning center, she volunteers at a local orphanage, and is a mother to four children. She also happens to be Syrian. This story is best put in her own words:
“Back in Syria, I worked in education [in private schools] for nine years before starting my own school in Syria. We lost everything in the war, when my family came here [to Turkey]. For the next three years, I worked in private schools in Turkey, but then decided to establish this adult learning institute. It is a training center for Arabic, English and Turkish languages.”
“I decided to open the institute because this is my field. This is what I know best. Also, there is a need for the Syrian community in Turkey to learn the local language. But the institute is also for the Turkish community who may be interested in learning Arabic and English.”
“Even though I worked for a Turkish company for three years, which exposed me to the Turkish business culture, it could not prepare me for the challenges of starting a company here. I wish I had more support to understand the rules, and regulations – especially in understanding financial compliance [tax, accounting, and auditing].”
“Currently, we have nine teachers. I hope to expand our work to also teach adolescents. I can see the challenges that our children are facing…they need to be equipped with the skills to fit into the job market of tomorrow, which is much more competitive. I would like to do this but the situation for us [Syrians] in Turkey is unclear. We do not know what will happen tomorrow, if the rules and regulations for us with change. Until there is a clear vision for our presence in Turkey, I will continue to maintain our current work, and when the time comes, I hope to be able to expand.”
“Work is what gives a human purpose. My husband and I are serious about raising our children in an environment where they learn to value work and contribute to the society that is hosting them. Education is the most important way to do this, as our children are the future. If our children are well equipped, with a solid foundation [education], they can contribute positively to this society.”
“One day, I would also like to start a kindergarten. After all, these are the pillars of our future. For now, I am volunteering at a local orphanage that provides training for children with special needs.”
With that, Asmaa beams at her youngest son, who returns her smile from across the room, where he has been quietly playing with building blocks.