Home / Quiz / Module 1-Unit 2-Case Study 1

Module 1-Unit 2-Case Study 1

Ali and his younger brother Ahmed arrived in an overcrowded raft of refugees and migrants landing on Lesvos, Greece, in October 2015. The pair – 17 and 16 – were making their way to Germany. Their family in Lebanon had sent them on their own, hoping to protect the boys from threats at home. The boys were eventually settled into a group home in the town of Peine, near Hannover, Germany, where they have become wards of the German state until they turn 18. By the spring of 2016, Ali and Ahmed were attending intensive German language courses in a new school, learning to express themselves in a new language and a new country. In class, Afghans, Syrians, Iraqis and children from other countries interact with one another for the first time using a common language. The boys’ teacher, Ms. Ute Zeh, speaks fondly of seeing her students begin to come into their own. “Sometimes they’re loud, sometimes they’re troubled, sometimes they’re crazy – like when they see a German girl,” she says, smiling. “But they’re boys, you know. In school though, they’re so enthusiastic, that on Sundays, when I’m at home, I can’t wait for Monday to come and teach. I love it so much.” Back at their group home, Ali and Ahmed reflect on their experience as refugees and how it might be shaping them. “My identity hasn’t changed–I’ve always been a refugee,” says Ali. “First as a Palestinian living in Lebanon, and now I’m probably going to become a refugee in Germany. As a refugee, there is always a sense of feeling inferior to others. You don’t always get opportunities in life according to ability. I mean, why should I go to school if I can’t become a doctor? My father is a professor, but he hasn’t taught in years because he’s a refugee. Here in Germany, that’s different. Here they treat you as a human.” At just 17, Ali is now playing the role of father figure to his younger brother Ahmed, pushing him to seize the opportunities available in Germany. “Of course I would love to be a teenager and just enjoy life here in Germany, but by doing that I would be jeopardizing not only my brother’s future, but my own too. I know that every day I would be out partying or smoking, I would also be compromising that.” A burgeoning hairstylist while he was still in Lebanon, Ali has started an apprenticeship at a local salon near the group home, while Ahmed started regular classes at the local secondary school after excelling in his German language courses. “Things have been lining up in a weird way,” says Ali. “I feel really blessed that I’ve met good people along the way. Before this, I had only seen Germany on TV, so being here, living here, learning the language, it seems…almost unreal.” In May 2016, their asylum claim was denied