Inspirational Stories

Another successful E3 journey

From being unable to understand basic English when he left Afghanistan as a 13 year-old teenager, to graduating as a Cisco Certified Network Associate, JRS volunteer Philip Prasetio shares this story of Sam’s determination to overcome his adversities and his desire to pay it forward.

Speaking to Sam (not his real name) was immensely inspiring. This was a young man, a mere two years my junior, who, at 20 years of age, has gone through his fair share of hardships. At the age of 13, he was forced to flee from his home country of Afghanistan, settling in Pekanbaru, Indonesia, where he now resides with his father. The most striking thing about our conversation was how fluent he was in English. He would later share that he could hardly understand English but when he was settled in Indonesia, he proactively sought out a volunteer English teacher to teach him the basics of the language. And today, after a short couple of years, he is so fluent that you would not have guessed that he did not even know his ABCs!

Sam has just completed the Cisco Certified Network Associate (“CCNA”) certification course, an initiative sponsored under the JRS E3 programme. Graduates of this programme will have the skillsets to install, configure, and troubleshoot networks using products from Cisco, a major provider of networking services. As Sam had little prior knowledge, coupled with the fact that he had to catch up with 14 modules in three days, this was a tremendous challenge. To make sure he could make the cut, he spent 8 hours a day studying to complete the quizzes, and all the pre-requisites of the course. Thus, he felt a great sense of relief and excitement when he completed the training. Sam hopes that his newly minted certification will bring him greater opportunities in the IT industry.

With the new possibilities that this course has provided him, he likewise aims to help others in similar circumstances. In his free time, he teaches web development and acts as a mentor for other JRS-run programmes, so that he could pay it forward and benefit other asylum seeker students. Sam highlights the importance of this mentoring scheme, especially the transferring of his knowledge to others in the refugee community. Sam also suggested that JRS could consider structuring future courses to include computer networking at a beginner’s level. He hopes that in doing so, it will be easier for other students to overcome the steep learning curve in this subject, something he himself struggled with greatly.

Sam’s journey has been an incredible one and his tenacity to learn and improve, as well as his generosity to pass on what he has learnt, was palpable in our conversation. He is now focusing on the next steps, which is to get a stable job that will allow him to continue teaching and training students, especially other asylum seekers. We at JRS wish Sam all the best in his future endeavours!