Omar Alkadamani fled to Germany from Syria as a child. He knows exactly how important the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 ‘Quality education’ is – for him personally and for every country that strives for a better future.
‘Education is the key to everything,’ says Omar Alkadamani. This is a firmly held belief for the Syrian, who left the small town of Shaqqa in southern Syria with his father for the safety of Germany in 2017, aged just 12. As his mother and other relatives had already left the war-torn region, they were able to move to the state of Saxony under the family reunification scheme.
Omar is now 19 and lives in Leipzig. He has just completed his Abitur, the German school leaving certificate. ‘I learned the language quickly. If you can speak to people, then you’re not a stranger anymore,’ says Omar, reflecting on his arrival in his new home. After just a few weeks, he sat his first language exam, and it wasn’t long before he switched from middle school to grammar school. ‘I’ve always been really interested in history and biology.’ But he also found time for his hobbies, like playing the guitar and the oud, a lute-type instrument. Thanks to the internet, he still maintains connections to Syria, to his relatives and friends. Today, Omar feels at home in two languages and two cultures.
At school, he was elected student representative, and in 2019 he became involved in a political youth organisation. ‘There was a very welcoming culture there,’ says Omar. He has since expanded his commitment to politics and has been actively involved in the City of Leipzig’s Youth Parliament for two years. In 2021, he became a member of the Youth Advisory Council of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). ‘I am now a spokesperson for the Youth Advisory Council,’ he says. Omar also recently joined the youpaN youth forum, in which young people participate in implementing the German National Action Plan on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). ‘Volunteering is my hobby,’ he says, laughing cheerfully.