In the run up to the ICE Academy 2018, we wanted to reflect on last year’s programme and to introduce you to some of our awesome alumni. Our second interview is with Ammar, who loves watching films, especially comedies, and is hoping to study International Relations at university next year with the aim of later becoming a politician.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Ammar, I’m 30 years old. I came from Syria one year and a half ago and I live in London.
What is your favourite thing about yourself?
My favourite thing about myself is that I’m a calm person, I don’t get angry easily from things. I can say I’m friendly with strangers as well, even if I don’t know them I’m friendly with everybody, and kind to people. I don’t hurt feelings.
Do you have a favourite song or artist?
I like Ed Sheeran songs, and some pop songs. But Ed Sheeran is my favourite one, I listen to him often, especially his new song ‘Perfect’.
And if you had a superpower, what would it be?
Spiderman really, climbing walls! I would like to be invisible as well as a superpower, sometimes you need it, you know, maybe to be more free to travel and to move.
Let’s talk about food! Do you have a favourite food, and what do you think of the food in England?
My favourite food is a traditional Syrian dish based on courgette filled with meat and some spices and cooked in yoghurt sauce with rice or bulgar wheat. It’s delicious.
As for English food, I like it, I first tried it the Christmas before last. It was a British Sunday roast, because I tried it in Wales I won’t call it English, I would call it British and it was very nice and the sauce – I forgot what they call it – was a very nice sauce as well.
What about ice cream?
In my country we don’t have European or American companies because it is not allowed, we don’t import anything from the Western world. I missed in my childhood to eat Ben & Jerry’s. I like ice cream in my country but it’s just like normal ice cream, and boring. I used to enjoy it but when I tried Ben & Jerry’s it was something different! My favourite flavour of Ben & Jerry’s is cookie dough.
So apart from the food, when you arrived first in the UK what was the strangest thing here for you?
It could be seen as a good thing actually, people are way too polite! I don’t know why. It’s good but sometimes annoying! Another strange thing is that in London people rush all the time. If someone stops and says hello to them, maybe they will call the police! I watched a video on YouTube about that, someone says hello to someone else on the tube and he thinks he is a dangerous person, or crazy… I feel sometimes people don’t speak to each other in public, and everyone is in a rush, pushing the next person. I do understand after living in London for one year that life is a rush here, busy and stressed.
And since you’ve come here, what is your biggest dream?
I want to be a politician. I’m studying to be a politician actually. This is my dream but at the same time when I see politicians around the world, they are not that good. I don’t know…is it good to be a politician or not? I may choose politics to help a charity, or to help people, and not cause problems in the world.
Moving on to the ICE Academy, why did you take part?
Last year I was checking my Facebook when I saw this advert about ICE Academy. I read about it and I liked the idea like of building your own business and getting to do something new, selling ice-cream, something good of course. Then when I met Fred and Charlie for the first time at the first interview, I liked them. They are so friendly and helpful as well, they helped me a lot since I started with them.
Did you find it a positive experience?
Yes, because before ICE Academy I was new in this country, I didn’t know how the system worked or how to get a job. I had no idea how to open a business or what kind of business to do but during this programme I learned a lot about the market and how to deal with people in sales.
And why should other people take part?
Selling ice cream is giving fun to people! When you see children happy when they get the ice-cream, you feel good, you are not just selling. When you see people happy when they buy something then you feel happy as well.
Also, they still support me even after that programme finished, they still help me with many things, such as finding a job and giving me references for everything. It’s partly about ice-cream and selling and skills, but also the business section was very good and helpful because you get to know more about how business works and how we can open businesses. It changed my mind for how I think about the future, and how if you want to do something in the future…you can do it.
Ammar is a TERN Ambassador, and is currently living and working in London.