Syrian teen goes from refugee to top student in Australia

World Today

Syrian teen goes from refugee to top student in Australia

Losing everything in war-torn Syria is what gave an Australian high school student the determination to reach for success.

Saad Alkassab couldn’t speak English when he joined his Melbourne high school just two years ago. But he managed to finish at the top of his class.

CCTV’s Greg Navarro reports.

Syrian teen goes from refugee to top student in Australia

Losing everything in war-torn Syria is what gave an Australian high school student the determination to reach for success. Saad Alkassab couldn't speak English when he joined his Melbourne high school just two years ago. But he managed to finish at the top of his class. CCTV's Greg Navarro reports.

Spending the summer as a laborer isn’t an unusual job for a high school student.

But tending to the grounds of Melbourne’s Catholic Regional College Sydenham may not be where you’d expect to find the school’s top student.

Not until you get to know 19-year old Saad Alkassab and his father, and what they endured in Syria before fleeing to Australia.

They lost actually everything and felt like dead. Saad’s father and brother were tortured, and his school in Homs was turned into an army base which meant the 19-year old missed two years of school.

That determination stayed with Saad when he and his family moved to Melbourne in 2014 to start a new life.

When Saad began school here two years ago his English, by his own admission, was terrible. He said he learned the language in part, by watching and, more importantly, listening to what took place in Australia’s parliament.

Two years later, he wasn’t surprised to learn that he had finished year 12 with the school’s highest marks – he actually thought he would do better.

He plans to accept a scholarship to study to become a doctor, and he wants to repay his adopted country for a new start.

All of which helps to explain why this teenager is willing to pick up a rake for the summer.


Sarnata Reynolds discusses refugees crisis

For more on refugees crisis, CCTV America’s Susan Robert spoke to Sarnata Reynolds. She is an international human rights lawyer with the consulting firm: Strategy for Humanity. Also, she a policy adviser on global migration and displacement at Oxfam International.