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Creating a safe zone

Mehmet Akif Ersoy Middle School  


Integrating Syrian students into the

Turkish Education system

In this project, our aim was to understand the experiences of Syrian refugees in a public school in Turkey; and to use the findings to promote greater empathy between Kurdish and Turkish teachers and students

We interviewed Syrian teachers and students about their experiences of being a refugee in Turkey. An an important aspect of this activity, was our decision to use a third language as a 'buffer' in a politically and culturally sensitive environment.

Age group: 10 -14; plus some adult members of staff

Methods used: Digital storytelling, interviews photographs etc.

Conducting an interview

We started an interview with a female Syrian teacher in Turkish, and realised that she seemed uncomfortable amongst her Turkish and Arabic colleagues in the staffroom.


We then tried conducting the interview in English and noticed that the teacher seemed much more comfortable with the interview.


With her permission, we then conducted a similar interview with two of her Syrian students; they seemed nervous about the interview process, so we started the interview asking about their happy experiences in Turkey.


Their teacher suggested we ask them in Arabic, and we noticed that the students immediately felt more engaged with the interview.


This made us realise the importance of language in making an interviewee feel more at ease.


With the findings of these interviews, we are creating digital story telling videos, to share the experiences of these Syrian refugees with Kurdish and Turkish colleagues in the school, to help them to better understand and empathise with their situation.

You can see Özcan Karakoç talking about the project, in this video.

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