Saman Rashid is intent on graduating with a certificate in hotel and tourism studies in the spring of 2020, after a three-year work-study program in the beautiful city of Vienna, Austria. He is also attending evening school, and is well on the way to obtaining the Matura certificate, the official Austrian high-school diploma. His positive attitude towards life is a lesson to anyone who questions their ability to experience success. He is a natural communicator, and is eager to share his story.
How I discovered that reading builds bridges along the path of life; my journey from Syria to Europe.
Saman Rashid made the journey from Syria to Istanbul at the age of thirteen, where he worked a six-day week in a garment factory in order to help his family survive. For a time, it seemed as if his formal education might have ended. However, he now lives in Vienna, Austria where he is enjoying a return to school, can communicate in five languages, and has discovered the pleasures of reading.
In April 2012, I was attending school and playing soccer with my friends in Syria. But by the following year I was working full-time in a garment factory, alongside many other teenagers and children. I was not sure whether I would ever be able to return to school again. Now that my family is settled in Austria, I can finally continue my formal education. One of my first teachers in Vienna gave me a book; it was the first book I had ever owned. In the beginning I knew that being able to read was necessary in order to develop my German language but as my reading skills got better I found out that it also helped me to understand a lot about the different sides of life, and to understand more about other humans, their beliefs, their opinions, and the things that matter to them. Now it is difficult for me to pick a favorite book, because I often think that I would like to read any book, even if it belongs to another religion, another community, another people.
My parents didn’t get the chance to go to school. I think about them, and about the noticeable difference between their opinions and mine. Books have already changed my life so much. By discussing information that I read about, my friends and I can exchange ideas about the books, but about ourselves. Reading builds bridges between us.