Syrian woman to teach Arabic classes in Derry

Hasina Hasan, Sara Kadar and Jo Bird pictured outside An Culturlann.  DER2816GS007
Hasina Hasan, Sara Kadar and Jo Bird pictured outside An Culturlann. DER2816GS007

A Syrian woman who moved to Derry with her family two months ago, is to teach classes in Arabic in the city.

Twenty-three years-old Hasina Hasan says the people of the city have made her, her two sisters and her mother and father feel so welcome since they first arrived.

And she says she is delighted to give something to the people of the city by teaching the classes, alongside Sarah Kadar who volunteers with the North West Academy teaching English.

The Hasan family left Syria in 2014, and for the past year have been living in Turkey. During her time in Turkey Hasina worked for an organisation teaching Turkish to the Syrian women.

“Derry is really good,” said Hasina. “People are so friendly and everyone we meet smiles and says hello. We are very happy and our neighbours have been very good. Life is very different here, and we feel very safe.”

She revealed how her two sisters already speak English however her mother and father have no English and are currently taking lessons with Sarah.

“I speak Arabic, Kurdish, some Turkish and some German,” she said. “My first language is Kurdish, and my family and friends speak Kurdish. But in Syria we studied in Arabic and that is why I speak good Arabic.

Sara Kadar who teaches English to the Syrian refugees three times a week, explained that some of them have no English, however they are making steady progress with the language. “They are very keen to learn,” she said. “I think the biggest obstacle is the writing.”

Jo Bird, who is helping the Syrian families settle in Derry, explained that a number of English words come from Arabic including kebab, and the famous Bismillah (in the name of God) from the Queen song, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. And she revealed how previous classes were attended by local people who want to learn words to speak to the Syrians, linguists, people who want to go on holiday in Arabic countries and local people who often travel to Arabic countries for work.

A four week taster session in Arabic is to begin next Monday. July 18 from 1.30pm - 3pm or 6.30pm to 8pm/ The course is aimed at those with little or no Arabic. To attend contact 02871264132 or email fiachra@culturlann-doire.ie