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Portrait Mohamad Alhussein Saoud
03.08.2023 from 
Study + Teaching
Starting over at university

New surroundings, new opportunities? What is it like to start over in a foreign country?

While still in Syria, Mohamad Alhussein Saoud earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in economics at the University of Aleppo. Today he is working on his doctorate - in Magdeburg. After arriving as a refugee in 2015, he initially became passionately involved in helping other refugees, and today he is also involved with students at the University of Magdeburg. Yet Saoud is by no means new to the field of science. Not only did he successfully complete his bachelor's and master's degrees, but through various scholarships he also acquired a master's degree in democratic governance and various further academic training in the field of human rights and democratization, including in Italy, Lithuania and Turkey. In 2015, his path leads him to Germany when the country officially opens its borders to Syrian refugees.

But what exactly was his path to Magdeburg like? After arriving in Germany, Saoud spends his first weeks in a refugee camp near Halberstadt. Already here, he is able to use his English skills to bridge the camp's many language barriers. "If someone needed help, they came to my tent," he says of his first time in Germany. "Sometimes I would also go near the gate to help new arrivals translate." He continues this translating activity in Genthin, his second stop in Germany. In the small town near Magdeburg, he becomes aware of the university in the state capital. In particular, the fact that the university is committed to helping refugees arouses his interest. Shortly thereafter, he attended an orientation event at the university. Already here, he succeeds in making connections: through contact with lecturers from the economics department, he finds his way back to economics with their support. "From the beginning, Prof. Sadrieh provided me with invaluable support and guidance," he says of his current doctoral advisor. He is also grateful to this day to Prof. Kvasnicka, holder of the Chair of Applied Economic Research"The support I received from Prof. Kvasnicka is truly invaluable. His belief in me has awakened a deep self-confidence in me and enabled me to reach new heights and give my best," says the current PhD student.

Mohamad Alhussein Saoud (privat)Mohamad Alhussein Saoud (Photo: private)

In 2017, he finally ventured the next step and registered for a doctorate at the University of Magdeburg. Initially as a student assistant at the Chair of Applied Economics, he begins his path at the university. Three years later, he eventually becomes a research assistant and is also involved in teaching. "I devote a lot of time to lesson planning and developing teaching materials," he says. The effort pays off, as this is the fourth time Mohamad Saoud has received the faculty's teaching award for his outstanding commitment to teaching, as well as glowing student ranking scores. As a research assistant at the Faculty of Economics, Saoud does not follow a prescribed schedule, but it is still important to him to have a regular weekly routine. "I usually reserve Monday and Tuesday for research-related activities. On Wednesdays, I make it a point to attend the faculty research seminar and colloquium to keep up with the latest academic discussions and research findings. On Thursdays and Fridays, I devote myself to my teaching responsibilities."  He is available to both bachelor's and master's students not only with expertise, but also with advice and guidance on topics such as theses.

Not only is his commitment to his students important to him, but the current doctoral student was also active in voluntary work. His expertise combined with his personal experiences as a refugee proved to be helpful additions to the team of the NGO „Refugee Rights Europe“, which was founded in 2016. For five years, the organization advocated for the rights of refugees. Founder of "Refugee Rights Europe" Marta Welander and Mohamad Saoud already got to know each other in a master's program in Italy. He was happy to comply with her request for support. As a data analyst, Saoud was instrumental in the preparation and evaluation of numerous international studies and reports. He also continued to work at the University of Magdeburg on projects and publications dealing with Germany's refugee crisis.

Mohamad Alhussein Saoud, Paris 2017 RRE project (c) RREMohamad Alhussein Saoud with the project "Refugee Rights Europe" (RRE) in Paris in 2017 (Photo: RRE)

Since he started working at the university in Magdeburg, he prefers to spend his free time in his office, as well as in the city's numerous green spaces - he is particularly fond of the Elbe River and parks.  "There are several places in Magdeburg that I really like. One of my favorites is the area near the river, where I often go for a run and enjoy the picturesque view. I also enjoy being in the park next to Flora Park, which is also great for sports and recreation."

Author: Elisabeth Ude