A refugee and the UK Citizenship Test

Hooshyar attended a WEA Politics and Public Life course in Sheffield a few years ago. He wrote this poem about his experience of arriving in the UK as a refugee and translated it from Farsi himself. Listening to him reading this in the House of Commons some time ago left a lasting impression on me.

Robinson Crusoe
I approached a sorrowful sunset,
I was dead, and all that remained of me
Was my tiny name.
My tiny name,
Soaked frightened and tired,
Reached the shore.
searched deeply the island’s trees
The Island
Was tiny and nice.
The Island
Was huge and ugly.
The Island
Was the far end of the world.
My name,
It was only my mother, who knew it
And a kind friend,
Who was my childhood playmate.
But later, when we grew up a bit,
He pointed his gun at my face.
And the Island
Has recorded my name
At the old College of ESOL,
In the Home Office files,
At the Police Station
And in many Job Agencies.

A debate about changes to the UK Citizenship Test on last night’s BBC Question Time reminded me of Hooshyar’s poem. You can find examples of the type of questions that someone like Hooshyar would be expected to answer in the future at: http://bit.ly/MZYrva.


About Ann Walker
Adult education and lifelong learning specialist and campaigner. LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/1GI0QK1

2 Responses to A refugee and the UK Citizenship Test

  1. infostocksy says:

    From a slightly different angle…

    I spent numerous years working abroad on work visa’s, this enabled me to work for the employer that was supporting the VISA, a brit applying for residency in a foreign country off their own bat was incredibly difficult, therefore moving employers was incredibly difficult, as the new employer would have to support you through a very prescriptive and lengthy visa process to bring you on board.

    I find the citizenship process farcical, like any test you can cram for it and learn the information required to pass the test, I challenge anyone reading this to go sit their driving test without reading the highway code multiple times and pass first time, to this end, I believe that the majority of the citizen’s of the UK would not be able to pass the citizenship test without preparing for it.

    Whilst abroad, I found it quite amusing that I was an upstanding member of the community, paying taxes and supporting the community via altruistic and philanthropic activities, but could not remain in the country without jumping through numerous hoops, whereas you could have an undesirable, car jacking, mugging law abiding citizens etc. and they had the freedom of their country.

    Personally having a journeyman’s mind set I find it incredibly amusing that as a civalisation we create borders and barriers to equality and integration and yet we hanker for connection with other entities, why would such beings connect with us if we can’t even get on with each other !

  2. gogwit says:

    Reblogged this on Gogwit's Blog and commented:
    Moving. Clearly his experience left a lasting impression on him.

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