West London College ESOL students celebrated Refugee Week 2023 today, 21 June 2023. The students shared songs from their countries and the annual ESOL writing and photographic competitions were announced by author Catherine Davidson. Their stories are a powerful reminder of the extraordinary journeys, courage, and contributions of refugees at West London College.
Leyla Houshian-Daly, left, a former ESOL student and now an ESOL teacher, spoke at the event. Leyla described studying from 9am – 9pm five days a week and working at weekends to achieve success in her education and to support herself.
Leyla, originally from Iran said: “It is not easy to start a new life in a foreign land, but the key to unlocking any country is to learn the language. Study hard and do not give up.”
Fellow speaker, Suzanne Alshaikh originally from Syria, described her journey from ESOL to studying Creative Media Production Technology at our Ealing Green College and TV Production at the University of Westminster. She graduated with a triple Distinction at West London College and First Class Honours from Westminster. Suzanne now works for the TV station London Live as a Multiskilled Operator. She says: “Each day is different, I may be directing, editing, setting the lighting or recording sound.”
Suzanne even took time to mentor two Creative Media Production Students, Joseph Sheehan and Thomas Miambanzila, who were filming the event.
This year’s Refugee Week theme, Compassion, was dramatically expressed in the ‘Wall of Compassion’, a black background festooned with red love hearts, bearing translations of the word into all the many languages spoken by our ESOL students. Students wrote about happy times they had known, which were handwritten and outlined to resemble clouds, mounted on the wall for a display titled ‘Memories of Smiles’.
ESOL Lecturer Nicci Golland, who coordinated the event, said: “It’s important for our refugee students to feel valued, especially with the current hostile environment. They are each unique individuals, who are starting their new life in the UK and are very much welcomed at West London College.”