Computer course for asylum seekers

| Michaela Nesvarova

A computer course for asylum seekers took place yesterday at the University of Twente. About 30 asylum seekers residing in Twente attended the course to learn some basic computer skills, but also to practice Dutch and start their integration into the local society.

Photo by: Gijs van Ouwerkerk

The course was organized by the Helping Hands Committee of the Student Union, which consists of volunteers from among UT students and is in charge of events focused on helping asylum seekers.

'We started working in November and this computer course is the first event we organized. We need to see how it goes and what we could improve,' says Hannah Kuhn from the Helping Hands Committee. 'At the moment, we collaborate with asylum centers in Almelo and Azelo. We planned to focus mainly on social events, but the center in Almelo asked if we could organize a computer course mainly for Eritrean asylum seekers.'

E-mails, Facebook, Dutch

The majority of the course participants were asylum seekers from Eritrea, as Eritreans generally have a very limited experience with computers. According to Zeru Tekle, one of the asylum seekers that attended the event, computers are not very common in Eritrea: 'They are very expensive. Only people in the government or rich people use them.' Things like e-mails, Google or Word were therefore completely new to many participants.

To accommodate different levels of knowledge and skills, each participating volunteer was assigned to one or two asylum seekers and taught them whatever they wanted to know. While some wanted help with setting up a Facebook account, others focused on learning Dutch. As most of the refugees didn´t speak any English, communication wasn´t always easy, but two translators were present and helped out whenever they could.

More events planned

The Helping Hands Committee will soon organize more events for asylum seekers from Almelo and Azelo. They are planning to take them ice-skating in March and a soccer afternoon is scheduled to take place at the campus on the 30th of April 2016. The committee is still searching for volunteers, who would like attend these and other similar events. If you´re interested or have any questions, feel free to contact the Helping Hands Committee at helpinghands@union.utwente.nl.