Essalam English Schools – Smara and Ausurd

Essalam English Center is a place where Saharawi are able to learn an international language to tell their story to the world. The goal of the school is to prepare adult students to communicate conversationally in English, both informally and professionally. Established at the request of the Saharawi, the school was officially inaugurated. The Smara school was officially inaugurated in March of 2005 as Essalam (the Arabic word for “peace”) English Center. 

Essalam English Center brings a high quality English language program to over 150 students in the refugee camps.  The program uses a Cambridge curriculum, a technology audio-lab, and most importantly, native English speakers. 

Essalam English Center aims to equip the next generation to use their voice to share their story, as well as make a difference in their community and internationally.  

This center is more than learning the English language: the aim of the school is to inspire the Saharawi to use their voice more effectively, eloquently, and powerfully.

The Essalam English Center of Ausurd was established in 2016. Hundreds of students gather and learn at the two Essalam English Schools.

Student Spotlight: Khalihena

An excerpt from Forgotten Faces.

My name is Khalihena. I’m 22 years old, and unlike most Saharawis, I am an only child. My father owns a small store, which carries kitchen and household supplies, and sometimes I help run the store in the evenings or on the weekends. In May of 2014, I graduated from Essalam English School. I was very motivated to learn English because it’s the language of the world. It will be very useful in my future. My day job is working as an English teacher in a local middle school. I enjoy working with my students, and I feel satisfied with my work, as I believe I am helping the youth by giving them something that will enhance their futures. It’s not easy. Many students do not show the desire or motivation necessary to learn a second language, but others do. 

I really enjoy writing, too; I write about anything, really, but mostly about things that relate to the struggle my people have endured and our hope to be independent one day. It’s difficult to write about our experiences in exile because the realities we face make it somewhat necessary to ignore certain aspects of life, to shut them out, or become hardened by them. We have endured indescribable experiences here in the refugee camps, but in spite of what we have suffered, we have learned a lot—more than what you could ever learn in school. We have learned how we can be patient while being oppressed and displaced from our homeland. We’ve learned how to keep standing in the face of great challenges.

Freedom is the necessary foundation for anything else to be built upon, and so our people, for now, hope only in our right to self-determination and to live freely in our land. The future is always full of hope, but it’s true that it’s hard to talk about my hopes and dreams for the future because there is that need for freedom. My message to the rest of the world is this: we all must continue to educate ourselves and grow in the ability to change our situations for the better.