From refugee to ‘discussion friend’

Nasour learned how much volunteer work can mean. Now he wants pay back the assistance he got as a refugee

Nasour chats with one of the students at IA. He knows how much it means to know the Danish language

Some will think that he is a student – with his brown eyes and dark hair. In fact he is from Iran.

But Nasour doesn’t come to IA to learn Danish. In fact he is there to assist the students when then red to practise the Danish language.

When he came to Denmark six years ago he couldn’t speak a word Danish himself, but he has learned it all right! To that extend that he as ‘discussion friend’ can talk about everything with the students, give them some good advice and yes guide them in the use of the Danish language.

Many students and teachers at IA have in the past years enjoyed a number of nice volunteer ‘discussion friends’ who assist students with practicing their oral Danish language. Most of them come from the Red Cross organization in Copenhagen that organizes many volunteers working in second hand shops, as visitor friends and ‘discussion friends’.

“I think it was hard to learn Danish myself – every day for months I had a headache. But I know that if you don’t learn the language in the country where you live, you won’t get a life, says Nasour. He is 29 years and a dentist student. To him, a good life means education and language gives the access.

“My parents fled from the theocracy in Iran in 1979, thus I was born and grew up in a refugee camp in Iraq. In 2003 we fled again, this time to Jordan where we lived in a camp up to the time where we came to Denmark in 2006. Before that two of my siblings moved to Finland and another sister came to Denmark in 2001. Because she stayed here we also came to Denmark.

In the refugee camps Nasour went to school – Persian, Arabic as well as English schools. Kurdish is his mother tongue. With this palette of languages he was well equipped to work as a interpreter for different organizations like Care International and UNICEF while living in Jordan. This work gave him an idea of what volunteer work can mean to you.

“Volunteer work is to me a way to pay back some of all that support. I have got from the Danish society. There is a 180 degrees difference in the possibilities you get here in Denmark compared to what you get where I come from. As a volunteer ‘discussion friend’ here at IA I learn to know many people and their different culture and history. It’s an inspiration to see how they manage”.

“Many students are also curious of how I have managed so well. Then I tell them that I myself decide what I want to write on my piece of paper. Here in Denmark you get the chances to decide”.