Accueil > Graduate stories > Lead by a former Refugee: How the Speak & Code Academy is Breaking Barriers in Germany
14 Dec. 2022
Lead by a former Refugee: How the Speak & Code Academy is Breaking Barriers in Germany
Ahmad was born in Syria and grew up there. At the age of 18 he left Syria and first moved to Cyprus and then to Turkey due to the revolution that had started back in his homeland which later developed into a civil war that is ongoing until today.
Ahmad was born in Syria and grew up there. At the age of 18, he left Syria and first moved to Cyprus and then to Turkey due to the revolution that had started back in his homeland which later developed into a civil war that is ongoing until today.
More than 6M Syrians have left their country since the conflicts started in 2011. Roughly 850K made their way to Germany.
In 2013 Ahmad’s family made it successfully to Germany but after many failed attempts of reuniting with his family, he decided to take matters into his own hands and he went the way that many have heard before.
In the end, he took a boat from Turkey to Greece and crossed 4 countries walking from there until reaching Germany in 2015.
Today life looks very different: thanks to EdTech solutions and scholarships, Ahmad completed his Bachelor's in Economics and Politics and a Master’s in Public Policy, he has a son, his application for German citizenship has just been approved, and he is the program lead of the newly launched Speak & Code Academy by Le Wagon.
He was lucky, not many refugees end up doing what they want and can do. “The biggest challenge I had to face during the early times in Germany was feeling secure and having stability while doing something suitable for my skills and passion.”
Because of the hurdles and obstacles, many refugees have to face while in Germany, Ahmad co-founded the NGO Syrian Youth Assembly which aims to help Syrian youth around the world achieve education, support development, and work on peacebuilding. Through SYA, Ahmad came in contact with Le Wagon and the initial idea of the Speak & Code Academy. “I loved it and when I got an offer to join Le Wagon and take a lead on the program there was no way I could refuse this. Upon joining Le Wagon and working on the program, I re-designed the program and we were able to successfully launch recently.“
The Speak & Code Academy is an absolute passion project for Ahmad and his team. And while it was not difficult to develop the course itself, there are many external factors that need to be faced. Currently, the program relies on financing via the “Bildungsgutschein”. This educational voucher is granted by the German government for people in need to upskill and rejoin the job market. “We wanted to make the course available for all those who need it. But unfortunately, the heavily bureaucratic German system combined with discrimination against ex-pats and refugees, in particular, turned out to be a bigger challenge than expected. Currently, we are looking for additional funding options to offer this program to those who need this silver lining the most.”
While 9 students in the first batch might not seem like a lot, there were far over 300 applicants that could not receive the funding needed to attend the course. “With our launch, we proved that such programs do have the right to exist and we will prove that even more once our students get decent jobs after graduation.”
Looking into the future, Ahmad is optimistic. “I see a lot of potential for growth in Germany on many levels, though we need to quickly adjust and take actions along the way.” He hopes for more trust and belief in the people that would like to join the program to be able to create a future for themselves in Germany but he is confident that the change the Speak & Code Academy and Le Wagon are initiating will have a lasting impact on the people attending the course but also on Germany as a whole.
The Speak & Code Academy is a 6-month program designed to provide you with the relevant coding skills as well as improve your German levels to help you find a job in the German tech market. For more information, check out our website