Last year, Open Cultural Center Barcelona hosted various people with a migration background through the European Solidarity Corps program. They worked for OCC, some followed our Migracode course and all of them stayed in the volunteer apartment of OCC. Below you can read more about their personal stories and their time in Barcelona and at OCC. They now all have new objectives after their time at OCC, but we are very happy to have received such great people in our organisation!

Roy from Syria

I am Raed Khashba, but all my friends call me Roy, and I am from Syria. I am 21 years old and I have lived in Spain for a year; now my project with OCC in Barcelona has finished. I am a chef, it was my job in Syria, and I was learning this for 3-4 years. My wish is to be famous and that in the future I will open some sweet shops like my job in Syria. I also hope to become a Youtuber and make videos for YouTube.

My ESC Project

I love to learn new things. When I was in Greece, a lot of volunteers helped me and I would love to do the same for other people. I hoped to learn how to work on laptops and learn Spanish. I also wanted to meet new people and to gain experience in an ESC project. At OCC, I taught Arabic to local people, mainly from Europe. I also helped support teaching refugee minors from Morocco, mainly with translation because they don’t speak English. However, now I’m super sad because I finished my project with the lovely team.

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My life at OCC

I feel like we are a family at OCC, and I’m really good friends with everyone. I like to talk to the volunteers and carry out activities with them and I didn’t face many problems.

My life in the apartment

We were best friends in the apartment but sometimes there was conflict between us. Now I feel sad because I will miss them a lot.

My life in Barcelona

I did a lot of sports such as football and swimming in the sea. I also met a lot of new people and made many friends. I met many Catalan people and liked to eat Catalan food.

For the future

I will always say that I don’t know because I don’t know where life will take me really. I just hope to help people as best as I can because a lot of people helped me before and I understand what help is.

Said from Syria

My name is Said Belal and I am 26 years old. I am from Syria. I have been working with OCC since 2016. I have my Bachelor Certificate and I speak 5 languages. Before OCC, I worked in the agriculture industry. At OCC, I am an Arabic teacher and assist with putting on cultural events to promote social inclusion. I am also a member of the OCC Migracode programme, where I am learning general computer programming and IT skills.

One of my personal goals after OCC is to find a job in Barcelona, hopefully continuing to cultivate the skills I have learned through Migracode. I would like to continue learning computer programming and become an IT developer.

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My ESC Project

I really wanted to carry out this project because it helps with social integration into the community of Barcelona and as a refugee, I thought this is an important part of migrant development. I am very passionate about the inclusion of refugees and OCC offered a great opportunity to help with this mission and also gain real skills through their IT courses.

Before I started, I had general knowledge about the organisation so I had some idea of what the courses and project would be like. Through working with OCC, I expected to learn more about society, about life in Barcelona, and learn new ways to develop my communication skills. As a teacher, I looked forward to having good relationships with my students and gain experience with event and classroom preparation. I wanted the Migracode project to help me with getting started in programming and coding.

Teaching language classes in Arabic, attending the Migracode programme, and organising intercultural events were my main responsibilities. For the classes, I would teach 2 online classes per week, which involved preparing the necessary lessons and teaching materials beforehand. For Migracode, we twice a week for 4-hour courses. The homework and coding projects would take around 25 hours to complete. For the intercultural events, we would help promote the event to the local community, set up the OCC centre, and assist with cooking food.

I really liked my experience. Along with the coding skills and solving challenges, I was able to interact with many different people. These connections have taught me new things about various cultures, and I believe gaining these types of multicultural experiences is very valuable. I am very appreciative of my project experience.

My life at OCC

My relationship with OCC staff and other volunteers has been very positive. They are all very nice people and I have made a lot of friendships. As volunteers we all live together so because of this we have all bonded and become close friends.

You get exposure to many different things through the cultural events. I liked the unexpected experiences with learning with other people. Learning about their lives, their food, and their traditions was very eye-opening. The connections and friendships I gained were some of the best parts of working with OCC.

Sometimes I felt like I was a little lost at times and would need a little more hands-on direction with initiatives. Occasionally, it could be hard to motivate others to do certain tasks. But overall, the positives outweigh the negatives.

My life in the apartment

Life in the shared apartment was good because it established community and friendship. I liked living together and cooking together, we would bond over making dinners and inviting friends from all over in the team. We would also go out for trips and team building excursions, which was very fun.

It was very important for everyone to follow a schedule for cleaning and chores. It could be frustrating when people did not respect the rules such as smoking or being quiet at night. But when everybody listened to the rules, it was good.

My life in Barcelona

We would travel around Barcelona and find nice places and parks in the city to hang out. We spent a lot of time discovering the city. We would take beach trips together as well. We would often go running in the morning or the evening. We would also spend time to visit with Spanish friends from dinner and drinks.

While living in Barcelona and visiting different places, we made a lot of Spanish friends. During our free time, we would meet with them and they would include us in their daily lives and activities.

Living in Barcelona we would walk around and visit a lot of different cultural sites in the city. We got to participate in Catalan New Years traditions and events. We learned a lot about Catalan national holidays and would participate in the Catalan traditions. We also went to a lot of festivals which were very fun to attend.

For the future

My main plans for my future are to find a job and establish my life in Barcelona. I would also like to continue gaining more friends and I am looking forward to the events and the wonderful things that Barcelona has to offer.

In terms of professional development, I would like to establish my career in IT and get a job related to programming and software development. I would also like to continue helping out future refugees that are coming to Barcelona through programs that are similar to OCC.

Mouaz from Syria

I’m Mouaz , from Syria. I have been working for OCC for two years more or less. Back in Syria I was working as a computer technician, but because of the war I had to leave Syria and find my new life .

i love helping people who need help, improve my communication skills and learn about more cultures.

My ESC Project

I had time that I felt I could spend doing something useful for the community. I wanted to work in an environment where I could meet many people from all around the world. I also wanted to share my language with other people who wanted to learn it .

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I expected to come to Barcelona and learn more about its culture, its people and its lifestyle. I expected to learn important skills that would help me in the future to achieve my dreams.

At OCC, I was teaching Arabic to local people, organising intercultural events , giving speeches at universities and schools to explain the life of refugees and helping around OCC with various tasks.

I feel I really enjoyed my project and did everything I committed myself to achieve like communicating better with people. I learnt a lot about the Catalan history and met so many people from everywhere.

My life at OCC

We are just like a little family, we always talk to each other, we work together and we go out together. At the same time, I was using new technology that I didn’t think I would ever use. The working environment and I really enjoyed the tasks that I have done. However, sometimes there is so much pressure when doing so many things at the same time. I feel volunteers and interns should work together more .

My life in the apartment

I like it, I used to live in a shared apartment for many times in my life. We could always talk to each other, share our daily life, work together on our projects or even help each other with our personal things.

My life in Barcelona

I really like it, I could make so many friends in a short time and the people here are really kind . I like going to the beach, mountains and parties. I like playing billiards , chess , swimming , and now I have so many friends from Catalunya. It’s very interesting, I learnt a lot about its history.

For the future

I decided to go to Germany to work temporarily. To find a good job , and start my normal life again . To find a house, to get a promotion, to visit family and friends more.

Hareth from Iraq

In Iraq, I studied the fields of psychology, sociology, and politics. Then after an additional four years of study, I worked with a judge in the court for a year. I also had a shop selling underwear for women and worked as a taxi driver using my own car. My childhood was as beautiful as any child with his parents could ask for. My family was from the educated class, made up of teachers and officers. I had to leave my country because of the many wars. I arrived in Greece from Turkey by boat. It was the first country I had visited. I have gained a great deal of valuable experiences in these countries that will support me in the future .

It is natural for anyone to have different goals or just dreams they see for themselves. My goals were drawn around becoming an army officer and learning the meaning and content of the English language better just like my father. But my destiny was different. I expected this program to be a complement to the previous programs that I had been a part of in Iraq and Greece, and to give me more positive ideas. As I mentioned earlier, there were several times that I felt I had a second family looking after me. I had great relations with my colleagues and they constantly provided us with assistance.

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My ESC Project

I expected this program to be a complement to the previous programs that I had been a part of in Iraq and Greece, and to give me more positive ideas. After agreeing to work in this program, my supervisor gave me a set of daily and monthly tasks such as hosting two sessions per week and opening and closing the office. I even sometimes received requests for people who wanted to attend language classes. These tasks are all supportive of the small and modern project.

For the majority, the environment was very positive. However, in all types of work, it is normal for there to be negative feelings as well. It may happen due to a misunderstanding with some people during work or a task that may frustrate or disappoint them. Therefore, not everything can always be positive and there will occasionally be negative feelings. This is a rule.

My life at OCC

Any social or public relations I had with trainees or volunteers, or even officials, were temporary relationships because we cannot always stay anywhere for a long time. This is why I consider these to be temporary relationships. However, these temporary relationships were so beautiful that I will never forget them. I was able to make such beautiful memories that these relationships with the program are permanent.

Some of the positive memories I have are how valuable the Arabic language is for the foreign people learning it to communicate and work with us, and how valuable the English language is for us so we can communicate with an even larger group of people. As for positive relations, it is especially helpful if I can meet the other culture.

Through my observations, some of the negative memories I have are from when the work was not equally distributed among the employees assigned to the task. Furthermore, if there was a sudden change in task or someone jumped to another task and forgot about the first task. This could cause the work pyramid to become unequal. In our old country, we believed there should not be misunderstandings like that.

My life in the apartment

While I was working, I was staying in a four-bedroom apartment and shared a hall with a number of people of different nationalities such as Cyprus, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. We bonded with each other and had discussions about lessons and the teacher in the program. In addition to that, we discussed the field of entertainment and went out with others. There were some negative aspects, but we still enjoyed these days.

My life in Barcelona

The place of work and housing is all in Barcelona, which is a really beautiful city. I was able to go to beautiful places and met people who were friendly and others less so. I visited many beautiful places with advisers, friends and colleagues, such as the beach. But all of Barcelona is beautiful.

Through my work and my time residing there, of course, I met people from Catalonia who were working with me. Another Catalonian I met was a student and the rest I met were in the street and the club. I spoke with Maam about different cultures and I saw how my life and their culture are both really beautiful. I found it close to our culture and I loved it.

For the future

Yes, I have a dream, which is to see those countries that destroyed my future be in the same situation that we are in… As for the future, I do not know what will happen to me, but I hope to learn more and more, and, one day, change my status from refugee to citizen or return to my country.

Thank you everyone!


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