With a smile on his face from ear to ear Elie Jan Shamoun sat between the students in Impulse. ‘I feel like a student again here!’
Elie Jan Shamoun is sitting in the atrium of Impulse (Photo: Ronald van Drie)
Shamoun is staying in the asylum seekers centre in Ede, where he has now stayed for five months. Before the civil war in Syria started, he was studying in Aleppo. By walking around on the Wageningen campus he is reminded of the past. ‘The atmosphere and the people here remind me of Aleppo. The friends I had there and the student life I lived there.’
How did you end up here at the university?
‘Eight months ago I was still in the Northeast of Syria, I was studying Arabic literature, but I was forced to flee for the civil war. Three months later I arrived in the asylum seeking centre in Ede. I then received an invitation to come and take a look here. It seemed great to see what the student life here is like’
Why do you come to the lecture on food taboos?
‘The approach of the lecture is to share knowledge between cultures and to discuss about food. Here in the Netherlands for example they do not eat insects, but in Syria this is the same! Additionally, I wanted to see what the student life in the Netherlands was like. This is also part of my integration. I just received my residence permit and I would like to study again.’
What do you want to study?
‘In Aleppo I studied Arabic literature and I would like to go to the University in Leiden to finish my studies there. Due to this visit on campus I feel motivated to do so. But before I can start this, I need to be appointed a place to live, and I need to learn the Dutch language.’
Together with a couple of other refugees Elie Jan Shamoun was invited by Eva Romviel, Master student International Development. She used the lecture as a try-out. The idea came from a project at the Radbout University where refugees can follow courses. The meeting was attended by about 50 students and two refugees from Syria, including Shamoun. A bit disappointing Romviel thought, but she did share that the plan was a success. ‘This was the first time and we will now see if we can do this more often after the summer.’