UNHCR - Turkey scholarship lets star Syrian student pursue dentistry dream

Since she arrived in Turkey six years ago, Syrian refugee Sidra has mastered a new language, worked in a factory to support her family and graduated top of her year in high school.

Her breakthrough came when she won a university scholarship. She is now in her second year of a dentistry degree, and fulfilling a life-long dream

“I am very passionate about education,” said the 21-year-old, who fled war-ravaged Aleppo with her family in 2013. “My dream was to go to university, and I studied very hard to achieve this dream.”

Her achievement reflects a single-minded determination to continue her education, even when it seemed she might not get the chance. She missed her final year of high school in Aleppo when fighting forced the closure of local schools, and when she first arrived in Turkey, she lacked the paperwork needed to enroll.

“The day I went back to school was beautiful.”

Unable to study, she took a full-time job packaging goods in a medical supplies factory while teaching herself Turkish in her time off from books and YouTube videos. A year later, when she secured the refugee documentation needed to resume her education, she vowed to make the most of it.

“The day I went back to school was beautiful,” she said. “The worst thing about war is that it destroys children’s futures,” she continued. “If children don’t continue their education, they won’t be able to give back to society.”

After graduating from high school top of her class with an overall mark of 98 per cent, Sidra then went one better to score 99 per cent in her university entrance exams. The results helped her to secure a vital scholarship from the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB).

While tuition fees at Turkish state universities have been waived for Syrian students, the scholarship provides Sidra with monthly support, enabling her to concentrate on her studies. Without this support she says she would not have been able to study her preferred subject of dentistry due to the extra cost of buying equipment such as cosmetic teeth to practice her skills.

Sidra practices her dentistry skills at home while her younger sister Isra looks on. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Sidra attends a practical lesson at Istanbul University, where she is studying dentistry. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Sidra stands outside her home in Canda Sok on the outskirts of Istanbul. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Sidra spends time with a friend on the historical Galata Bridge in Istanbul. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Once a week, Sidra teaches classical Arabic to Malak, an 8-year-old Turkish girl, at her home in Istanbul. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez

“Without the scholarship, I would have had to choose a different major, different to dentistry, and to work to cover my university expenses,” she explained.

Sidra is one of around 33,000 Syrian refugee students currently attending university in Turkey. The country is host to 3.68 million registered Syrian refugees, making it the largest refugee hosting country in the world.

Since the beginning of the Syria crisis, YTB has provided 5,341 scholarships to Syrian university students, while a further 2,284 have received scholarships from humanitarian partners. This includes more than 820 scholarships provided by UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency – under its DAFI programme.

Access to education is crucial to the self-reliance of refugees. It is also central to the development of the communities that have welcomed them, and the prosperity of their own countries once conditions are in place to allow them to return home.

Enrolment rates in education among refugees currently lag far behind the global average, and the gap increases with age. At secondary school level, only 24 per cent of refugee children are currently enrolled compared with 84 per cent of children globally, with the figure dropping to just 3 per cent in higher education compared with a worldwide average of 37 per cent.

In Turkey, this average has been raised to close to 6 per cent thanks to the priority attached to education, including higher education for refugees.

Efforts to boost access and funding for refugees in quality education will be one of the topics of discussion at the Global Refugee Forum, a high-level event to be held in Geneva from 17-18 December.

Turkey is a co-convenor of the event, which will bring together governments, international organizations, local authorities, civil society, the private sector, host community members and refugees themselves. The event will look at ways of easing the burden of hosting refugees on local communities, boosting refugee self-help and reliance, and increasing opportunities for resettlement.

“Successful people can support the country they’re living in.”

Sidra is convinced that education holds the key to her own future success, and is determined to live up to the nickname she has earned among her fellow students.

“People call me ‘çalışkan kız’ which means: ‘the girl who studies a lot’,” she explained. “With education we can fight war, unemployment and illiteracy. With education we can reach all our goals in life.”

“Successful people can support the country they’re living in,” she continued. “Turkey has given me a lot of facilities, and it honors me that one day I can give back to its people and be an active member [of society], to work and practice dentistry with their support. I take pride in this.”

This content was originally published here.

Researchers Reveal How Being Around Chronic Complainers Can Put Your Health At Risk

Misery loves company, and it may come in the form of chronic complaining.  Being around complainers automatically can put a damper on your day if you don’t take steps to distance yourself. Being surrounded by hard-to-please family, friends, or co-workers creates more than merely a negative atmosphere. Indeed, it legitimately causes health consequences for you and them.

Researchers reveal how being around chronic complainers can put your health at risk.

3 Types of Complainers

Have you ever wondered why people complain?  Why do some people often express displeasure while others only do so occasionally?  What is a complaint?

In Psychology Today, a complaint is defined as an expression of dissatisfaction.  The real problem arises in how a person expresses their dissatisfaction and how often.  Most of us have a particular bar that must be reached to complain. However, some set that bar lower than others.

One of the biggest triggers for complaining is the individuals’ sense of control over the situation.  The more powerless a person feels, the more they will complain.   Other factors may be frustration tolerance, age, desire not to make a scene, or to “look good” to others.

Another factor may have nothing to do with the actual situation.  A negative mindset tends only to see adverse events.

The environment may also play a role. A study shows that individual(s) raised or surrounded by negative thinkers tend to become negative in thinking as well and, therefore, will complain more frequently.

Not every complainer is the same.

There are three types of complainers:

1 – Chronic complainers.

We all have known a chronic complainer or have been one ourselves. This complainer only sees problems and not solutions.  They tend to focus on how ‘bad’ a situation is regardless of its actual impact or consequence to their life.

They tend to be negative thinkers and have created a pattern of complaining, which some studies have shown may wire the brain to operate negatively. This affects their mental and physical health and impacts those around them. While called a chronic complainer, it does not need to be a constant, permanent condition.  People with this mindset can change, but they will have to choose it, and it will take work.

2 – Venting.

A complainer who vents focuses on displaying emotional dissatisfaction.  Their attention is on themselves and how they feel regarding what they deem to be a negative situation.  They are hoping to glean attention from those around them as opposed to finding a real solution to the problem.   When someone provides a resolution, they only see a reason it won’t work.

3 – Instrumental complaining.

This is akin to constructive criticism.  This complainer is seeking to solve an issue that has created dissatisfaction.  They will present the problem toward the individuals most likely to be able to solve the problem.

Effects of being around complainers

In the same article, which outlined how a complainer is wiring their brain for negativity through their words, also describes how being surrounded by complainers negatively impacts others.

1.      Sympathy turns to negativity

It turns out that our capacity for compassion, attempting to place ourselves in others’ shoes, also makes our emotions susceptible to experiencing the same anger, frustration, and dissatisfaction of the complainer.  The more often you are around the individual complaining, the more neurons are being fired to associate with the emotions.  Neurons that repeatedly fire in a pattern teach your brain to think in that manner.

2.      Stress-induced health issues

Being around others with a cynical viewpoint on events, people, and life in general triggers stress in your brain and body.  As your mind attempts to identify with the person complaining, you begin to feel the same emotions of anger, frustration, bitterness, and unhappiness. This interaction leads to stress that releases hormones to prepare you to act on the stress.  The hormone released is cortisol.

Cortisol works in tandem with adrenaline as your hypothalamus responds to a perceived threat and tells your body to release the hormones.  Adrenaline creates a rise in heart rate and blood pressure as your body prepares to “fight.”  This increases blood flow to the muscles and brain to prepare you for action.  Cortisol releases sugars to provide energy.

Over time, with a repeated pattern of this stress, you increase your chances of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

3.      Shrinking your brain

In addition to the health problems created from stress, you are shrinking your brain when you expose it to repeated and constant levels of stress.

A study published in Stanford News Service demonstrated the effects of stress and stress hormones on wild baboons and rats.   What they found was that chemicals called glucocorticoids release over time as a response to chronic stress, which caused the brain cells in rats to shrink.

Later, another study was done after performing an MRI on participants.  This x-ray allowed scientists to compare hippocampi of people who have had long term depression with others of the same age, sex, height, and education but without depression.   It was discovered that the hippocampi were 15% smaller in those with depression.

The same study compared Vietnam veterans experiencing PTSD with combat veterans without a history of PTSD. They found that hippocampi were 25% smaller.

In those cases, researchers could neither prove nor disprove that glucocorticoids caused the shrinkage.  However, they did find this to be true in patients with Cushing’s disease, which made scientists believe they were on the right track with their studies in people with depression and PTSD.  Cushing’s syndrome is a brain disease in which a tumor is stimulating the adrenal glands to release of glucocorticoids.  In patients with Cushing’s Syndrome, scientists discovered the hippocampus was shrinking.

Your hippocampus is attributed to aiding the brain in memory, learning, spatial navigation, and goal-related behavior, among other necessary abilities.

Great ways to stay positive around complainers

  • Choose your daily friends wisely.

We can’t choose our family or co-workers, but we can choose our friends.  Surround yourself with people who are more positive than negative.

  • Be grateful.

Just as negative thoughts breed negativity, positive thoughts breed positivity.  Each day, or at minimum, a few times a week, handwrite what in your life you are grateful.  Consider that two items of gratitude can cancel out one negative.

  • Don’t spend energy trying to fix a chronic complainer.

While you may sympathize with a person who seems to be having a rough life, trying to fix their problems won’t change their complaining.  They currently can only see negativity and, therefore, will only find problems in your solutions.

  • When you must raise an issue of dissatisfaction, sandwich it.

Start with a positive statement, then give your concern or complaint.  End it with a desire for a positive result.

  • Use empathy

When you must work closely with someone who is a chronic complainer, remember they are seeking attention or validation. In the interest of keeping work moving along, express empathy, and then move them along to the task at hand.

  • Stay self-aware.

Pay attention to your behavior and thinking.  Make sure that you are not mirroring the negative people around you or broadcasting your negativity. Often, we complain without thought.  Pay attention to your words and actions, as well.

  • Avoid gossip.

It is pretty commonplace for a group of people to get together and complain about a person or situation.  That tends to encourage further complaining and dissatisfaction.

  • Exercise or find a

    method of releasing stress positively.

Pent up stress can create a negative outlook, which leads to complaining.  Go for a walk, workout at the gym, sit at the park or meditate.  Do something that distances you from the complainer or stressful situation that helps balance your emotions.

  • File your complaints wisely

When you feel the need to complain, make sure it is something that can be resolved or has a solution either you or someone you are speaking to can solve.

Final Thoughts on Dealing with Chronic Complainers

Being around negativity not only doesn’t feel right, but now researchers also reveal how being around chronic complainers can put your health at risk.  Complaining can become a lifestyle that can decrease your mental capability and increase your blood pressure and sugar production.  Do your best to either avoid or minimize your exposure to chronic complainers. In the end, you’ll find not only good for your state of mind but also improves your overall health.  So take your stress levels seriously and stay self-aware.

The post Researchers Reveal How Being Around Chronic Complainers Can Put Your Health At Risk appeared first on Power of Positivity: Positive Thinking & Attitude.

This content was originally published here.