Amal

I came to the UK in 2016, I was a teacher in a primary school for 17 years, I left Syria because of the war, after 3 months in the UK came to MIN, I found out about MIN from two women at the primary school my youngest son was attending. First, I joined Oasis Women’s Group and after 2 months I became a volunteer with the Family Nest Group. I registered as a volunteer because I wanted to have more experience in the UK, to learn about how community projects work, and practise my English.  I always felt very excited about coming into MIN every Wednesday for Family Nest, to make friends and to practise English. I was really happy, it felt like my family. I met lovely, honest people, and some of the other volunteers helped me, with my presentation for college, which was amazingly supportive. My favourite part about volunteering for MIN was helping at the community events, because I like celebrations. The events were always so busy, and the atmosphere was great, the music was so good too, different styles from all over the world! I also volunteered as part of a new project working with St Mungoes Museum to develop a new permanent exhibition there called ‘New Scots’. It was amazing to see behind the scenes at the museum, to look at many different objects and artefacts, and to have discussions about their meaning, history and function with others.

I did this project alongside my husband and my two eldest sons,  it was nice to share this experience with them, as a family. I was filmed for the project and had to speak on camera, it was quite scary because I haven’t really done this before and I didn’t know what they were going to ask me, and there was no time to practise! But I liked how it came out, and it helped me improve my confidence too. At the end of the project I also met with people from the Scottish Government who funded the project. It was an honour for me, and made me realise how important it was to do this project and to be involved in it. Overall, from volunteering I built my experience in the UK, and my confidence especially, I learned new things about Scottish culture, and how to talk to people. Speaking with other volunteers – who I count as my friends now – has helped me to change my attitude towards life. I try now to be more patient and less stressed. Visitors to the Family Nest, especially from NHS, told us about taking care of your wellbeing, and so now I try to be mindful of this, to stay relaxed and calm. Living through 4 years of civil war in Syria has a big impact on you, so learning from friends and listening to advice, this has helped me a lot, to find a better balance in my life. At the moment I am studying level 6 NC in Childcare and I am on placement in a nursery in Maryhill. The next chapter for me will be to find a permanent job, working with pre-school age children and complete my HNC level 7 in childcare. 
Looking back, I see that coming to MIN, was the first step for me to be able to make changes for myself, to be ready to take on the next stage of my life, to go to college, and to be independent. I want to be an active individual that plays an important role in modern society, and to be an inspiration for other young women.