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Good News Story - Graduation Day for Asylum Seeker

Sydney Morning Herald  article April 16

Graduation day for former Christmas Island refugee Hadi Hosseini

  • Lucy Cormack

Hadi Hosseini, a refugee from Afghanistan, taught himself English when he arrived on Christmas Island and is now an accounting graduate. Hadi Hosseini, a refugee from Afghanistan, taught himself English when he arrived on Christmas Island and is now an accounting graduate. Photo: Edwina Pickles
Hadi Hosseini remembers the experience of living in detention like living in "a factory for making people crazy."
Born in an Iranian refugee camp to Afghan parents, Mr Hosseini arrived on Christmas Island aged 17 in 2010. He knew not a word of English.
"They treat you as a prisoner...detention is a factory for making people crazy. But you've got to make conversation."
'I am so proud of what I've been through': Hadi Hosseini. 'I am so proud of what I've been through': Hadi Hosseini. Photo: Edwina Pickles
As every fork, blanket or plate of food passed his way during his 13-month stay, Mr Hosseini would note its English name, carefully writing it down in his notes.

On Wednesday afternoon the 22-year-old crossed the floor of an entirely different factory, graduating from an associate degree in accounting at Ultimo TAFE.
"I never say these kinds of things to myself, but I am so proud of what I've been through. I cannot thank my teachers and friends enough and to the wider Australian community for giving me this opportunity," he said.
Mr Hosseini was one of a record 71 students to graduate from TAFE NSW on Wednesday, taking with them degrees in design, art and animation, early childhood, information technology and accounting.
"Our retention rate is over 90 per cent and this reflects the excellent student support that TAFE NSW offers," said Pam Christie, managing director of TAFE NSW.
"Direct contact with lecturers is significantly higher at TAFE than at a university."
During his time at TAFE Mr Hosseini found no shortage of teachers going above and beyond, believing his education would have been "almost impossible" if not for their support.
"With smaller classes you get to know more about your teacher. Especially in a course like accounting, its not only a matter of the English language but about the accounting language, you need someone to break down those terms for you."
When he was released from Christmas Island in June 2011, Mr Hosseini decided not to settle amid an Afghan community in western Sydney, but headed east to Bondi.
Not only was he drawn to the sun-bleached sands, but the broad mix of local Australians and travellers alike.
"I wanted to talk with people other than Afghans ...When I was released, I thought, I'm going to adopt things in the community, I want to live with these people for the rest of my life, I will learn what I need to learn," he said.
After completing his HSC at Randwick TAFE over 18 months, Mr Hosseini began his associate degree in accounting, what would be two-thirds of his full accounting degree, which he will finish at Macquarie University in November this year.
He said it is no secret that he is "very hungry about accounting," and dreams to one day "work for one of the big four."
But until that day, he said he hopes to help to shape the experience for future refugees.
"My experience is known by many Australians as refugees who came by boat ... And by looking at the news ... all these terrible things happening to refugees, I wish that Australians would consider that those people can be an asset for the community, he said.
"I wish Australia's [politicians] give them the chance ...I'm sure they can contribute a lot."

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