Indonesia: A Journey of an Iraqi Survivor

26 August 2016|Sabbar Dahham Sabbar

I was born in Baghdad, Iraq. It was a beautiful country, the place of the holy messengers. I took my master degree in Business Management in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia during the period of conflicts and wars in Iraq. My country is bleeding since 2003. It became like hell. The people of my country are divided into many groups based on religion and ethnicity, which lead them to fight each other and kill for nothing more than worldly pleasure.

In the middle of 2015, over four million people in Iraq are homeless and living the life of a refugee. Few of them came to Indonesia and registered at UNHCR under Indonesian grace, which provide them place to stay, food, and healthcare services. I am one of them.

In 2013, I managed to reach Indonesia and got my refugee status from UNCHR after a very long and slow process. In Manado I met JRS whom are concerned about helping refugees and asylum seekers. They managed to create a good opportunity for me to teach at IAIN (Institut Agama Islam Negeri/State Islamic Institute) Manado as a community servicer which allows me to share my knowledge with the local students. For me, it turned out to be a breath of life.

I’d like to talk about my first teaching experience in Indonesia. It started in 2016. I had to teach Arabic, English languages and others subjects related to Islamic business and sharia. I had taught before but it was always only few students at a time. I had no experience of classroom teaching in an Indonesian education environment. So I was more than a little worried. IAIN Manado has a pretty extensive “teaching assistance” training program which ran for an entire week. I attended all the workshops, took notes, read and reread the training assistance manual. Still I found myself slightly ill-prepared. With hindsight, my lack of confidence was pretty natural but at that point I was a bit scared to face my students.

Anyway, the appointed hour came and I had to go on. I introduced myself, asked each one of the students to do a brief introduction and got down to business. The students were well prepared – most of them had done much already in a similar field of education. The first day was a success.

At IAIN Manado, I have learned a lot about myself as a teacher. I feel confident at this point that I am capable of successfully teaching university level courses. I have acquired many useful skills, many of which came directly from the university seminars. In working to develop my teaching abilities I have learned much about how we learn information, good and bad ways to present material, and techniques to help combat common teaching problems to name a few.

IAIN Manado, Indonesia

Even this reflective report is helping me verbalize and summarize what I have gotten out of the teaching process.

Few things are very special for me to mention. Firstly, it’s about the Mr. Muhammad Imran, one of the lecturers at IAIN who is highly supportive and helpful to me. He even took me to his house, introduced me to his family and treats me as brother to him. Secondly, it’s about the coordinator of JRS Manado (Mr. Zainuddin) who helped me a lot to get an opportunity to cooperate with immigration and university. Before given this opportunity, I was suffering intensively inside the camp of Manado. This opportunity helped me to release my overall stress level.

Altogether, I gained a lot by teaching at IAIN Manado. In my view, teaching in this university is like a performing art. No amount of reading or attending workshops will prepare you for the challenge. You only get better with practice.

For all my inexperience  at IAIN Manado, I hope I made at least some contribution to the students’ learning.

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