Ali Hassanzadah
Access to Humanities
“Dream big for the long term”

For me as a person who couldn’t pursue school education beyond the middle school because of unwelcomed circumstances, going to university was a dream. In spring 1999 because of multiple reasons and number of things were going wrong under the control of the Taliban in my country, Afghanistan, not only did I have to leave school but my country as well. As a teenager, I had to leave my family behind and go to Pakistan and then to Iran.

Being away from school, acquiring the English language mostly by self-study was the only way to make sure that at least I was learning something. It was difficult for me to study in Iran along side a full-time job at a construction company for 6 years. Fortunately, at the latter stages of this period, I managed to go to an English and Computer Learning Centre. This coincided with the time when the International Communities had intervened in Afghanistan and the Taliban regime had been toppled.

I was repatriated to Afghanistan in 2005 and in 2006 I started working with multiple international organizations. From 2009 to 2014 I worked for the British Foreign Office supporting the Afghan sub-national government. Following my redundancy in July 2015, I was relocated along with my wife and son to the UK under a recognition award scheme by the British government. As soon as I arrived in the UK, I never stopped thinking about higher education and soon after that, I found my way to Fife College. After being advised by the guidance team at Fife College I found the best pathway to higher education through a SWAP Access Programme.

Well! The promising news is, that after one year of studying an Access Course at Fife College, I find myself at the University of Edinburgh studying Politics and International Relations. Now I am a third-year student and can’t believe how much I have progressed, getting closer to my dream and even becoming more ambitious to study for a master’s degree. I have presented to current SWAP students and lectured HND students at St Brycedale Compass on a couple of occasions - such opportunities would not have been available for me without being a SWAP student. I have recently applied for an International Business Development Internship (paid internship) at Edinburgh Innovation provided by the University of Edinburgh.

Finally, for those who haven’t been able to pursue further/higher education, SWAP won’t let you down. For those who are dreaming big and are determined to change, through SWAP this dream can come true. SWAP will prepare you smoothly to explore the courses of your choice at university or college level. The first step is always the most difficult. Once you decide to take the first step then with a proper plan you will be on the right track to take further/higher steps.              
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