Meet: Azza Alragab

The Refugee Talent Hub regularly sits with both refugee talents and our partners. Today, I got the chance to have a coffee with Azza Alragab from Homs in Syria. Azza came to the Netherlands around Christmas 2016, she has been here for almost two years, and is currently taking part in an internship at Arcadis.

Enthusiastic from the Very First Day

When Azza first arrived, she was curious to know what her degree is equivalent to in the Netherlands, in able to set out a plan for herself. To her surprise, her degree was equivalent to a Geotechnical Civil Engineering Bachelor of Applied Sciences. Her case manager informed her that she did not need to study further and can immediately be put to work.

After she found this out, a Dutch filmmaking company got interested in following her through her journey here in The Netherlands and decided to make a short documentary about her (and a number of other refugees). This was to Azza’s advantage since due to the documentary, the municipality became interested in quickly finding her a job.


“I was able to prove my capabilities”

Even though the municipality found her a job quite quickly, Azza refused to take it. She wanted to at least first learn the Dutch language and only then start working. She believes that in able to learn a language properly someone has to help you by actually teaching you it. Azza says: “this decision that I took was risky, but it thankfully turned out to be a great decision. I told the municipality to just give me some time, and I was able to prove my capabilities. Within a period of five months I was able to finish the A1 and A2 language levels as well as the Dutch integration course. When I finished the A2 level I directly notified the municipality that I am now ready to work. Luckily, my job hunter had seen the documentary that I was featured in and noticed my enthusiasm, this made my job hunter instantly start looking for an opportunity for me. That is how I ended up in Arcadis, and despite all my responsibilities with my children and at home, this was a chance that I would not refuse.”

“I started the internship in July and it will end in December, I find this internship much needed because I need to learn the Dutch way of doing things. As a Geotechnical Engineer coming from Syria, we used to use different programs and software than what they use here in The Netherlands. At the beginning this was tough on me, I had no knowledge of how those programs functioned, however, I saw this as another challenge that I needed to conquer and started self-teaching myself how to use those unknown programs.”


“Everyone’s experience is personal”

“I adore organizations that tend to open the eyes of people and shed light on the available chances and possibilities. If organizations such as Refugee Talent Hub did not exist, then us refugees will only have each other’s word of mouth, and that is not always handy because everyone speaks from their own point of view and experience. Each individual experience is personal. Hence, if it was not for such organizations a lot of the reliable non-bias information will be out of reach.”


What tips would you give other refugee talents?

“As I mentioned earlier, everyone experiences things differently, thus, my advice to people would be to not rely completely on what other individuals say to you, you are the author of your own future and you should strive no matter what to achieve what you want for yourself. I would tell the talents to not just jump into something they do not necessarily like just for the sake of doing anything, because leaving a job or not doing something from your heart is quite difficult, take your time in finding what interests you and you will succeed.”


For the time being, Azza wishes to finish her traineeship at Arcadis and hopes to get a job contract with them. Read (and watch) more about Azza and her experiences here. The Refugee Talent Hub is looking forward to see where Azza’s motivation will take her!