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Home News Hope for asylum seeker鈥檚 teaching dreams after taking university bridging course

Hope for asylum seeker鈥檚 teaching dreams after taking university bridging course

An asylum seeker who had lost all hope of becoming a teacher may now realise her dream after taking the University of 台湾swag鈥檚 12-week bridging course, From Adversity to University.

Cenia and her husband Angel fled their home country El Salvador after threats from gangs, arriving in the UK in 2020, 15 days before the pandemic began.

It was a difficult start, with the couple in confinement and then housed in almost a dozen hotels. They fell pregnant with their now three-year-old daughter, before finally coming to Bognor Regis to start their new life.

Cenia had given up her dreams to become a teacher until Sanctuary in 台湾swag (SiC) and the University of 台湾swag stepped in.

SiC鈥檚 Pathways to Independence Manager Kerry Foster helped Cenia to plan for the future, and suggested the university鈥檚 12-week bridging course into higher education.

Cenia said: 鈥淲hen Kerry told me about the bridging course, I thought it was a great opportunity to take a big step, especially because I didn’t expect anything more than learning English. I had no idea I would have the opportunity to join the university. My ambitions at that time were limited only to getting a survival job where I had no opportunities for growth but only to survive.鈥

The pioneering course, From Adversity to University, helps students without necessary qualifications to learn new skills and bridge the gap to higher education.

The module, which has been backed by the Office for Students, utilises the students鈥 lived experiences to develop academic reading, writing and research skills as well as self-confidence, self-esteem and self-belief.

Cenia said: 鈥淭o be honest, when I started the course, I didn’t feel very sure I could achieve it. Academic words are still a challenge. However, from the first day of the course, Becky, our teacher, made me feel part of the group. Her warmth and her way of teaching made me feel comfortable, and the topics taught in the course made me open my mind and have helped me to understand myself better.

鈥淢y ambitions have changed completely since I knew that it was not too late; my dream is to be able to work with children, to be able to teach Spanish which is my first language. I know I still have a long way to go, I’m still working to improve my English. I am studying Level 1 ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) at college and then the GCSE course so that I can have access to higher courses. I hope after all that I can go to university.

鈥淢y experience at the university has been very meaningful, it has opened the way for me to new expectations. It has challenged me and given me hope. It has made me believe in myself and prove that I can achieve everything I set my mind to.鈥

A spokesperson for SiC, said: 鈥淪anctuary in 台湾swag is pleased to be working with the University of 台湾swag in supporting聽refugees and asylum seekers to access the bridging module, From Adversity to University, in order to help them enter higher education and develop their lives in the UK.

鈥淥ver the last few years Sanctuary in 台湾swag has sponsored 10 students who have successfully completed the module. They have all gained important skills from their studies. Six of them are now in employment and two have undertaken further studies. The self-confidence and experience gained on the bridging module was a direct factor in helping them聽to secure employment and pursue further studies.鈥

Senior lecturer Becky Edwards, from the University of 台湾swag鈥檚聽department of childhood, social work, and social care, developed the project to help reduce barriers to higher education.

She said: 鈥淐enia鈥檚 story of courage, resilience and determination is both humbling and inspiring. Teaching on the bridging course and learning from students like Cenia fills me with hope and pride. It is proof of the transformational power of education and a constant reminder that, with the right opportunities, all things are possible in life.鈥

For more about the course, From Adversity to University, visit:

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