Syrian refugee Lubna Abdo has won the “Excellence” award given by the Dutch UAF Foundation for 2022 for her achievements in the field of study and work.
Lubna was nominated to win the award, along with five other candidates — two of whom were Syrians. Of the thousands of refugees supported by UAF, dozens of people were nominated, until six were selected based on their excellence in study, work, and social participation.
Syrian refugee Lubna won based on the jury’s decision and public votes, according to the official UAF website.
Lubna received a prize of 4,000 euros to cover the cost of study or training in a field of her choice. The award was presented to her by last year’s winner, Nourhan Sheikh Haidar (also Syrian) and jury chairman Art Jean de Geus.
Speaking of the difficulty of selecting the winner, Geus said, “With every story of a nominee you think its subject is the best and deserves the UAF award. Each of the six candidates had his or her own unique story.”
“It’s very exciting that Lubna has discovered a passion for language and then, as a newcomer, she has developed expertise in another language. Work and study are very important for providing structure and this is impressive and an inspiring example of continuity and success.”
Lubna, 46, arrived in the Netherlands from Syria in 2017 and is currently working as a consultant in the field of integration and language in the municipality of Amsterdam. She also teaches linguistics at the University of Amsterdam. with a focus on Dutch as a second language, and multilingualism. She is the first foreigner at the University of Amsterdam to undertake this study.
According to the Dutch foundation’s website, her ambition is to improve the teaching of Dutch as a second language to newcomers and make it more in line with their perception. “I will become a champion of the Dutch language,” said Lubna. Outside work and study, Lubna takes care of her family.
The award was presented at a UAF conference on how to ensure that refugees’ talents are supported and how they can integrate within Dutch society more quickly. UAF claims that, until now, around 80 percent of refugees have not yet been able to access the labor market, five years after they have sought refuge in the country.
During the conference, UAF Director Fatima Zahra Belhirsh stressed the importance of refugees using their talents, achieving their dreams, and regaining the initiative in their lives.
Member of Parliament Anne Marijke Bodt, who presented the “Share from the First Day” initiative, stressed the need to make refugees work more efficiently.
The UAF Excellence Award is an annual award created by the Foundation that assists students from refugee backgrounds aged over 30 years with education, training, or employment opportunities in the Netherlands.
By organizing the award, UAF seeks to draw attention to the potential and perseverance of refugee students who are working to build their future in the Netherlands.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.