by Mohamed Mahyoub
My childhood was spent in the rural areas of Tiaz, Yemen. I migrated to England in 2005 at the age of 15 years old to live with my grandparents for a safer life and brighter future. At first I was filled with excitement and high ambition, but I soon began to realise that barriers such as cultural differences and linguistic barriers meant that my integration into society would be limited.
I joined school at the start of Year 9 just a year before the start of my GCSEs, and it was then when I realised that I was different to other students and I had a very long journey ahead of me to catch up. Remembering back home, I was a very active and talkative child who loved to socialise and get teachers’ attention. I was the school’s event speaker and presenter. Now that I had moved to the UK, I was not able to be myself anymore until I broke the barriers that were stopping me from expressing myself. Not being able to understand the culture or speak the language, made me feel invisible in the classroom.
I was given a dictionary and small collection of children’s books. A few months later, I started to learn new words, I started to gain confidence and hope. A year later, I was able to communicate, make friends, win the “outstanding school award” and most importantly get ready for my GCSEs. I was transformed and at last I no longer felt invisible and this was through the power of learning. I continued reading and learning the language and build new ambitions to be the first in my family to go to university.
All people are equal but learning empowers the individual – When I broke linguistic barriers I then realised the power of learning. I continued reading more books, participating in reading challenges and learning more about history, cultures, people, religions and opening my eyes to the world. The knowledge I gain helped me gain new skills and confidence to create opportunities for myself and others, continue with my education to start initiatives in my community.
Learning has transformed my life for the better and helped me realise my potential. Due to breaking these barriers with the power of books; I am currently building a career for myself in the field of Data Science and studying for a PhD in data analysis and artificial intelligence. Reading will always be a part of my life and hopefully one day I will write some books myself.
Mohamed Mahyoub wrote this blog for World Book Day 2017. He won Young Adult Learner Award for Adult Learners’ Week 2015. Watch his full story here.