story 1 June 2019

As a Syrian refugee, Mo started his DofE to improve his English but gained so much more

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Mohammad came to the UK from Syria as a refugee and started his DofE journey. Mohammad (Mo) is now the proud holder of his Bronze and Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards.

Mo was first introduced to The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) as part of a course he was studying at college, where he achieved his Bronze Award. He enjoyed it so much that he chose to go on and complete his Gold DofE programme.

Having always found spending time outdoors fun, Mo’s favourite section was the expedition. He had camped in Syria before, but it wasn’t the same for him as when he was doing his DofE programme. Speaking about his most memorable experience, Mo said: “I was on my Gold Award expedition and we ended up getting a bit lost, walking 5km further than we had needed to. I had to help lead my team whilst we navigated ourselves back on route – it was actually quite amusing.”

Mo’s volunteering section involved working for the Red Cross, which he continues to do as part of the Youth Leadership Team. Part of his role is to help other refugees – showing them around their new city, introducing them to British culture and helping them with their English language.

After completing his Residential section in Jersey with the Red Cross, Mo believed it had been a valuable learning curve for him. Jersey has never had refugees in the country, so he found that he wasn’t just teaching other people but also learning from their history.

Originally, Mo signed up to do a DofE programme to help improve his English, meet friends and experience new things. It was an exciting prospect as there wasn’t anything similar to the DofE in Syria for him to take part in. However, during his DofE journey, Mo developed teamwork, communication and leadership skills, which he was able to evidence in his university application and at his interview to study Medicine at the University of Southampton. The interviewee took a keen interest in his DofE experiences and asked him about the skills he had developed.

“I believe that my Gold Award helped me to get an interview to study at the University of Southampton in September, and I have met some of my best friends throughout my DofE journey. If I had a younger brother or sister, then I would definitely recommend the DofE to them.”

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