The writer of this article would like to remain anonymous, for personal reasons.
Speaking on a topic that you’re passionate about can be very exciting, yet very stressful, especially when it is in front of a large audience. I have first hand knowledge of these feelings because of something I recently did. In March, I spoke at an educational event about educational possibilities/issues for refugees, organized by a humanitarian organisation for refugees, in front of an audience of 100 people, with 21 one of the people being representatives from different educational organizations. Though I did not have the most appropriate words for my speech, I was very determined to speak up about the need for education for refugees.
The speech, on the importance of the need for education for refugees, was one that is important to me because of my unique journey to obtain education, and I was excited to be asked to be part of such an event. Prior to delivering my speech, I already had some knowledge and personal experience on how the lack of education affects refugees, mentally and psychologically. Due to not being able to receive education, illiteracy often leads refugees to make uninformed decisions, since education plays an important role in forming a person’s perspective. Myself, as a refugee, can personally attest to these complications because I experienced anxiety and depression when I couldn’t go to school. Since being admitted into an international school, I can solidly identify the difference in my character. After having access to an international education system I have started to develop into a more confident and bold person than I was before, when I couldn’t go to school.
I suppose this was the reason that I was selected to speak up, as now I am aware of the changes that education makes. In my speech I mentioned the problems I’ve faced as a refugee, and though I did not come up with an ideal solution, I want a solution to be implemented. I brought up a very common issue that many refugees face, which is that though we’re lucky enough to have schools run by organisations such as UNHCR or CARE, and these schools try their best to provide somewhat decent education, the stretch of these resources breaks at some point – these schools have to run multiple shifts to fit in all the children who are in need, which is not an ideal preparation for the further steps towards secondary education. My own experience in a refugee school was both positive and negative, I didn’t really learn anything, yet I still wanted to keep attending because it provided me some feeling of connection to my previous life, and a hope to return to regularity. Even though I was an ambitious person, due to the period of time I faced difficulties, I easily lost my hope of obtaining an education. During the speech I shared a past experience with the audience, about if I had been asked to describe my dreams or goals, I could not think of any – I simply couldn’t visualize a better life. However, I have dreams now, I have goals to achieve, and I can clearly visualize a better future for myself because education has made it possible for me to think bigger and to have my own perspective; which I had lost in the struggle of being displaced.
By being able to speak up on the issues from my personal experience, I have learnt the importance of being open about certain issues. I now realize that if I do not bring up these issues, then maybe some people won’t ever know about these issues. During the time I prepared for the speech I celebrated the stress and tension, and I also welcomed the feeling of adrenaline I felt after the speech. I never thought that public speaking would teach me so much about being the voice of the voiceless.