Warm welcome leads to success story

World Refugee Week

 Alissar Azar outside Flinders Uni where she is studying Medical Science

​WORLD Refugee Week is a time to recognise the young people from all backgrounds welcomed into our community of schools and given the skills to make a valuable contribution to Australian society.

Young people like St John Fisher College, Bracken Ridge, 2019 graduate Alissar Azar, who fled with her family from the devastating war in Syria.

Alissar and her family joined the St John Fisher College community in April 2018 with limited English and the seemingly insurmountable challenge of completing senior school.

Fast track two years and Alissar, is now attending Flinders University in Adelaide, studying a Bachelor of Medical Science with dreams of one day becoming a doctor.​

“I had lots of obstacles and challenges to overcome during my schooling years in Australia," Alissar said.

One of the main ones was the language difficulty as English is not my first language and I hadn't studied it back in Syria," Alissar explained.

“Thankfully, the college has an amazing EALD (English as Another Language or Dialect) teacher (Pauline De Mattia-Trimarchi) who helped me to overcome the language barrier and significantly improved my English."  

“Alissar said going to school was really challenging for her at the beginning.

“I was very scared about fitting in, making friends and doing well in my subjects, especially because everything was new to me; the language, culture and schooling system."

“However, what I didn't know was that I would be surrounded by an amazing and lovely community of teachers, staff and students."

“Everyone in the school was so supportive and helpful making my challenges feel smaller and smaller.

It was then that I started to feel that no matter who I am or where I came from, that at St John Fisher, I truly belonged," said Alissar.

Senior School Pastoral Leader Jo Winlaw worked closely with Alissar throughout her senior year.

She said Alissar was probably the hardest working student she had ever known."

“The challenges of the language meant she had to work twice as hard to achieve the amazing results she did, including a VHA in Senior English," Mrs Winlaw said. 

“She was such a role model for the other students, in regard to maturity, compassion, work ethic and willingness to speak up about her personal faith," she said. 

Top stories