Rania Fansa, 43, fled Syria to Germany four years ago. Today, she teaches English twice a week for beginners and advanced students at Universal Transport.
Ms. Fansa, please tell us something about yourself and your background.
My hometown is Aleppo in northern Syria. There I worked as an English teacher at a secondary school for 15 years. After the outbreak of the civil war, I fled the embattled city of millions to Germany. I moved to Saarbrücken first until a friend told me about Paderborn and the people living there. It sounded so exciting to me and exactly what I wanted as a single mother with two children looking for a peaceful environment. In the meantime, I have not only found an apartment and friends here, but I can work again in my job as an English teacher.
If you compare work at UT with your work in Syria, what cultural differences do you notice?
Teaching at a school is not as easy as working with adults in a company like here. But in my view, there are general cultural differences. The Germans are usually very determined, responsible and often their work is their focus. This is a little different to Syria, the percentage of those who focus on their careers and income is probably much lower. At least I have the impression that in the southern countries the life around the family is the most important thing – regardless of the money.
Ms. Fansa, you teach English at Universal Transport, how is that for you? What about the openness in UT?
What struck me from the beginning is the high level of cultural acceptance at Universal Transport. Being different is not only respected here, but seen in a positive way. For example, I always wear a headscarf for religious reasons which was never a problem here. I have been accepted by everyone for who I am. This difference was never something divisive but lead to conversations about my home country and the position of a woman there. In general, conversations about everyday situations – always in English – are a small but important part of our class. The advanced course focuses on Business English.
One last question: What are your plans for your future?
Long-term plans are difficult given the situation in my home country. I had to leave everything behind: my house, my friends and my family. Fortunately, my two children are here with me now. For now, I hope they can get a good education and live in peace here. We will see what the future brings.