At present, Mohammad Zaghnoon is preparing himself for his training in public service: at the beginning of 2016 he started so-called introductory training in the Koblenz employment agency. This is a type of work experience with teaching units, where he can further improve his German, but also learn about German labour law and practise working with computers. "I initially wanted to study in Germany", says the 23-year old, "but when I heard about the vocational training, I thought this is a great opportunity. I'm very grateful for the training place."
When the three-year training period starts properly in autumn, Mohammad Zaghnoon will be even more secure in German because he will then have contact with customers. Specialists for labour market services are usually the first contact persons for people seeking advice in employment agencies. They provide information in person or by phone, accept unemployment registrations or applications for benefits such as unemployment or child benefit, and help people to fill in their applications. To do this, they have to have a good knowledge of social security legislation. Depending on the concerns, they decide to which colleagues they will connect the customers for further support.
Studying business administration after acquiring an upper secondary leaving certificate
Mohammad Zaghnoon grew up in Aleppo and went to primary school and upper secondary school there. "I was in the Arts stream, and studied history, philosophy and languages", he says. "I often took my text books with me to training." Besides going to school, he was also a professional footballer and played for the first division club Ittihad Aleppo and played in the Syria team in the Asia Cup.
After acquiring his upper secondary leaving certificate, he started studying business administration in 2010 at a private university. Soon afterwards, the civil war started and Aleppo was caught in the crossfire. The family hardly dared to leave the house. Mohammad Zaghnoon's right hand was injured by a shell, and he had to undergo two operations. "This was also why my father decided that we had to leave Syria", he reports. "He gave up his factory and his career as a football trainer."
Learning German on the football field
From Lebanon the family went by sea to Turkey, they all had a visa. They then travelled by bus through Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary to Germany. The family finally applied for asylum in Trier at the beginning of 2014.
When their applications were approved in June, an uncle who has lived in Germany for 20 years, and new friends, helped them to find a place to live in Koblenz. And right away in October Mohammad Zaghnoon started a youth integration course at the Benedict-Akademie. He not only learned German there, but also tackled subjects such as careers information, applications and the Basic Law. "I had already taught myself some German", he says. "If you have a goal and want something, you can work more to achieve it", he thinks.
He also improved his German in the adult education centre, at the reception of a hotel near the station where he had a part-time job in addition to his courses – and on the football field, because the word quickly spread in the clubs that a professional footballer from Syria was now living in Koblenz. "You don't learn a language by staying in your room", he says. "You have to get out and talk to people." He now plays for Cosmos Koblenz in the district league and his German has reached Level B2.
He is looking forward to the start of vocational training and his future in Germany. "I got to know helpful and friendly people right from the start. I hope that I can give something back in return."