Chevening- 20 November 2022
I currently serve as the head of Aga Khan Cultural Services (AKCS) in Syria, one of a small number of organisations able to operate in Aleppo. When we began our work, with just a small team of six, our mission to restore the Old Bazaar to its former magnificence seemed almost impossible, but we persevered. Ali Esmaiel
Years of conflict have left their mark on Syria’s historic cities, some of the oldest in the world. We hear about the achievements of Chevening Alumnus Ali Esmaiel in restoring and protecting the remarkable world heritage sites in Syria. Chevening is the UK government’s international scholarships and fellowships programme.
“When I applied for a Chevening Scholarship in 2000, I was not at all sure what to expect. Everything I’d heard from my friends who had applied over the years was about the difficulty of getting accepted. Of course, this made me even more curious to try. The application was not easy. Nor was the test, and the personal interview was most challenging of all, especially for a first timer. For a young Syrian who had never taken any special courses, like IELTS for example, this was a big leap, taking a chance on the unknown!
It was a sunny Monday afternoon when I received the call to collect the result of my application from the British Council. On discovering I was one of five accepted for the scholarship, I realised I had no idea what to expect. I just knew that this would be the adventure of a lifetime: travelling alone for the first time, and moving to a country that I knew nothing about (besides a certain reputation for cold and rain.)
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