Diane Shakerdi (17) and her sister Loujin (16) from Syria were joint recipients of the International Student 2016 at the end of year Awards Ceremony at Maynooth Post Primary School, May 2016. Diane and Loujin are pictured receiving the award from school Principal, Mr. Johnny Nevin.
Language teacher and Language Support Coordinator at the school, Ms. Helen English, praised the two Syrian girls for their courage and tenacity. She explained how the girls had impressed and inspired both students and staff at Maynooth Post Primary School over the course of the two years they had studied there.
Diane & Loujin were forced to leave Syria in 2012 with their family because of the deteriorating humanitarian situation. As the bombing and destruction began to encroach more and more on their daily lives, their parents decided, quite abruptly, to leave for Egypt, hoping it would be for a short time only. However, as the prospects for peace looked increasingly unlikely, and after two unsatisfactory years in Egypt, the family moved again, this time to Ireland, first to Mayo where they spent six months and then in summer 2013 to Maynooth.
Diane & Loujin enrolled as Fifth Year students in Maynooth Post Primary in September 2013 and having now just completed senior cycle will sit their Leaving Certificate examinations in June 2016.
Their story of enforced emigration and relocation should give us all cause for thought and reflection. These young girls have experienced transitions across international borders in violent circumstances, experiences which have required of them particular qualities of adaptability, perseverance and endurance.
In addition to the geographical and cultural displacements, the girls have had to work hard to acquire proficiency in English language, adequate to meeting the challenge of pursuing an academic programme in seven Leaving Cert subjects. That they have successfully managed to overcome these many hurdles is testimony to their spirit of determination and unwavering optimism. They have impressed us with their achievements at an academic level but they have also inspired us by demonstrating that war and its devastating outcomes need not be an insurmountable obstacle to personal success and human attainment. They have shone like bright stars in our school community.
We wish them every success in their exams and further studies and hope that no obstacle will deter them from realising their dream of pursuing careers in medicine.