How I Went From Syrian Migrant To Podcast Superstar

How I Went From Syrian Migrant To Podcast Superstar

My family and I migrated to Melbourne in May 2012 From Aleppo, Syria. The main reason for this is from the ongoing war.

At the beginning, it was difficult to adapt to the new language, culture and people. It was like a different planet. My parents found it difficult to obtain a job, and my sister and I experienced bullying when we were enrolled in year 6, just after attending 6 months of an English Language School.

As my sister and I grew older, we started to become aware of all the opportunities we were offered in Australia, that we never had the chance to experience back home. In mid-2017, we began volunteering at SYN Media and Radio (Student Youth Network). It was probably the best decision we made that year. At SYN, we met so many wonderful people who truly believed in us! Refugees On Air was always an idea that rattled around my sister’s head, but now she had the opportunity to make it, so we got to work!

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Maya (left) and Sarah

A month later, Refugees On Air published its first episode! It’s a podcast we made in partnership with SYN Media, it aims to shine light on inspiring refugee stories from all across the world. So far, 5 episodes have been released with refugees who are authors, actors and youth advocates! My sister and I started this podcast because we felt like there wasn’t anyone else out there telling these stories.

We have met so many wonderful refugees who told us their inspiring stories. We felt like they were underappreciated and we wanted to radiate their voices further out. We decided to use the resources around us to bring these stories to life. Nowadays we have listeners in 4 different countries, we receive help from refugee agencies to keep our podcast going, and we have hundreds of listeners per episode!

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Obama enjoying the podcast

I wanted to share my story because it made me realise how many people have great ideas for podcasts that tell stories not being told, they just need a push to start them. Thinking back on how my sister and I took her idea for Refugees On Air and put it into action, I have come up with some tips on how others can start their own podcast too.

1: Figure out what makes you bubble on the inside

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What is it that you are passionate about? Is it filmmaking, drawing, or helping others in need? What’s one thing you see yourself putting your time and effort into doing in the future? Focus on that. You’ll be putting in a lot of time and effort and you’ll be doing a lot of talking about it, so it needs to be something you’re passionate about.

2: Ready, set, plan!

Open up one of your notebook and start jotting down some points and plans. What is going to be the purpose of your podcast? Why do you want people to hear it? Make sure you have some ideas of the number of episodes you are planning to do, and what each episode will be about.

3: Put yourself out there!

There are hundreds of opportunities for youth like us to be more involved in our community and get experience in our field of interest. The truth is, no one is going to knock on your door and present you with what you desire. Start becoming comfortable with uncomfortable situations! One of the refugees I interviewed, Abdi, said that “success is that turning feeling in your stomach!”. Learning to put myself out there put me on a pathway towards the many things I wanted to achieve.  

4: Seek and exhaust your resources

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There are endless organisations that aim to help the youth of Australia get started on their own projects. Never be afraid to contact them and ask for advice — you just need to do some searching to find out what is out there.

In terms of equipment for your podcast, I’m able to use the SYN studios to record each episode, but if you don’t have access to a studio, do not stress! It’s as easy as purchasing a handy recorder. They are a bit of an investment but worth the money!

5: Use social media to your benefit

Social media has a huge influence on how people view your podcast. Consider making a page/website to promote your work and continuously share new episodes and events! It gets people together and reminds them that you are truly, a hardworking podcaster!

Starting from scratch is definitely tough, and it’s not easy to find your passions and the courage to follow them, but when you do, the whole world opens up. So, if I can do it, you can!

If you’d like to listen to these inspiring stories of refugees, listen to the Refugees on Air podcast via the iTunes store. Or find out more via the SYN Media website, Refugees on Air Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.