Tarek: From Lebanon to Turkey

Meet Tarek, who joined NaTakallam in 2017

NaTakallam is my second family and every person I’ve talked to has an inspiring story. I learn from them – their lives, background, culture – as they learn from me. Many of my students became my friends and some were able to come to visit me in person which was such a great thing to happen! I can’t imagine my life now without NaTakallam. 

My story began when I arrived in Beirut on August 4th, 2016. I had the chance to study graphic design which I was dreaming of and I enjoyed living there. But it was is temporary because the moment I completed my studies, it would be illegal for me to stay. Four years later, on August 4th, 2020, I went to the general security office to check my residency and they gave me a paper instructing me to leave the country within 5 days… My residency wasn’t renewed because I graduated during the COVID lockdown. Later that day, the Beirut blast happened, 1.5 km away from where I lived. I thought I was going to die.

I couldn’t stand seeing the beautiful city I lived in for 4 years being destroyed. I decided to go to Turkey. It was the only and fastest option, and my brother has lived there since 2015 and I hadn’t seen him since. But the waiting period in Lebanon was stressful. I was afraid of being asked for my (expired) residency at any moment and risked being jailed with the possibility of being sent back to Syria.

A month after the blast, I arrived in Istanbul on September 4th. I hope to stay safe here for a while until I apply for a masters degree somewhere in Europe.


Noor: From Biologist to University Tutor

Meet Noor, who joined NaTakallam in 2016

NaTakallam is a gate that opens up the whole world. I made lots of memories and friends while teaching with NaTakallam. For example, one of my learners, Gina, has become my best friend and she has even visited me here in Italy. Through NaTakallam and Gina, I also had the opportunity to work as a translator with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP).

During the quarantine period, all my students texted and called me, making sure I was fine in Italy – especially in the early days of the pandemic. I’m blessed to be a part of such a great family at NaTakallam.

This October, I am thrilled to start working at IULM University. During my interview, they asked for an Arabic language certificate but as I’m a native Arabic speaker, NaTakallam wrote a recommendation letter telling them that I have been working with NaTakallam and teaching students, including university students, and that I had been trained by Professor Munther Younes, Director of the Arabic Department at Cornell University.


Tawfic: From Languages to Data Science


Meet Tawfic, who joined NaTakallam in 2018

Two years ago, when my asylum claim got rejected, I felt hopeless. My right to work got revoked. I was at the edge of losing my rented room. Those were dark days of limbo that I hope that nobody experiences. It was then that my partner told me about NaTakallam. I always loved languages and so I applied for the opportunity. I was aiming for a reliable income to support myself while waiting for my papers. Through NaTakallam, not only did I achieve that goal, but also, it changed my life forever.

I met amazing people through NaTakallam, from different countries and cultural backgrounds, many of whom became good friends that I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life. I have learnt a lot from them. I also obtained valuable skills that helped build my career through different opportunities that NaTakallam offered. I learned the ability to work in a multicultural environment, an important prerequisite for many workplaces. NaTakallam prepared me for work in (future) multinational organizations.

NaTakallam’s flexible working hours also gave me the opportunity to study Data Science online for two years and get experience and certificates in various fields. Once my papers were sorted, I could apply for my dream job which merged my passion for languages, which evolved even further at NaTakallam, and data science, which I could study. I began a new career that I was always dreaming of and am now working towards a more certain future.

This is a very rare opportunity during the pandemic, as many people are struggling to keep their current employment, let alone to advance. For that, I am indebted to and grateful for this amazing organization that literally changed my life forever.

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At NaTakallam, language is life-saving.
Tell your friends and family about our language learning, your colleagues about our organizational offers such as translation, and let’s continue to change the world through language and culture.

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