The Cervantes Institute in Damascus has granted four Palestine refugee students generous scholarships to study Spanish.
Kinda Said Mohammad, Ghiath al-Qala, Riham al-Kusa, and Wisam Abu Rashed, all undergraduate students at the University of Damascus, won full, three-year scholarships to study the language at the Institute.
They will start as beginners, but will eventually leave with advanced knowledge of one of the world’s most widely spoken languages.
Their studies also give them the chance to apply for grants and continue their education abroad. The four refugees were chosen from dozens of other applicants in a two-month selection process.
Pablo Martin Asuero, Director of the Cervantes Institute in Damascus, said: “All of them are excellent candidates and we are very interested in reaching out to them both as Palestine refugees and as members of the society.
“It is within our aim to promote and share Spanish language and cultural values with the whole social tissue in Syria. This is a perfect way of reaching wider audiences and providing these youngsters with valuable tools for their development.”
Kinda Said Mohammad, 23, attended UNRWA’s Fallujah School in Yarmouk camp. She perfected her English language skills before entering the Faculty of Political Sciences at Damascus University, where she is currently in her third year.
“I am really thrilled to learn Spanish, I love languages and I want to learn as many as possible because I would like to become a diplomat,” she said. “I am very interested in the way countries and cultures relate to each other, and I want to be a part of that international dialogue in order to give a better image of Palestine around the world.”
Second-year chemistry student Ghiath al-Qala is only 19 years old but already plans on becoming a great scientist. “I want to be remembered for making astounding discoveries that will help mankind,” he said. “It will provide me with opportunities that I would have never thought of.”
He wants to specialise in nuclear energy because he believes it is the key for a cleaner, better and more peaceful world. “I want to go and study a masters and a doctorate in Spain, a country where the knowledge of this science is very advanced.”
Francisco Santos Padron, UNRWA’s field programme support officer, helped promote the project. He said: “The Agency acknowledges the importance of partnerships like the one we are launching with the Cervantes Institute. We believe they are fundamental for supporting our work and enhancing Palestine refugee youth’s future and education.”
The Cervantes Institute is a public institution created by the government of Spain in 1991 to promote and teach the Spanish language, and spread Spanish and Hispano-American culture. It has over 80 centres on five continents.
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Text and photo by Diego Gomez-Pickering