Wales

Hamed Amiri left Afghanistan and coaches Cathays children

Hamed Amiri speaking to pupils
Image caption Hamed Amiri wants to give something back to the community which welcomed him

Hamed Amiri was just 11 when he left Afghanistan with his family.

They settled in Cathays, Cardiff, where Hamed quickly "got into trouble" and walked away from school with three unusable A Levels.

Now 27, the software delivery manager regularly speaks to children in his old stomping ground at Cathays High School about his experiences.

Just 30 people who described themselves as non white began teacher training in Wales last year, a Welsh Government report showed, leading to calls for more ethnic minority role models in schools.

And while Hamed is not a teacher - his life goal is to travel around schools and universities inspiring young people from similar backgrounds.

"Am I a role model? I don't class myself as a role model," he said.

"But actually, I am trying to make a difference.

"When we moved to this country, it was a scary time for me and for the family.

"You have this culture shock coming from a warmer country, different language, different religion to a country where, surprisingly, people open arms.

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Media captionHamed Amiri is a role model for pupils at a Cardiff school

"And you wouldn't expect that, with such a massive move from different countries.

"And I did struggle throughout my younger life, I did struggle in school which is why I'm here to talk to the kids. I got into loads of trouble, loads of fights, I was a defensive type of person.

"You do feel really isolated at the beginning, because you don't know which way you're going, you don't know if you're ever going to make it in life."

"And you're surprised by how open and nice people are here."

Hamed said he volunteers at the school to give something back to the community he feels made him into the person his is now.

He had the idea after attending a Teach First event in his IT role - and seeing Cathays pupils there.

"Me standing up in a suit with a banner behind me, it was an eye-opener for these kids that this guy from Cathays in an event actually looks very professional.

"And it gave me the idea to approach the guys in my school and say 'can I talk to the kids and give them a bit more insight of my journey and my struggles and my change of thought process and how to make something of myself?'.

"It doesn't have to be IT, it doesn't have to be anything specific, you just have to keep going and never give up.

"It is going to be tough, it is, but you just have to have that mentality and I know it's the cheesiest line but it works for me and I hope it works for the kids here too."

And Hamed echoed calls for more ethnic minority role models - saying children need to be able to see themselves as able to achieve what others have done.

"You can see the changes you make, they look at me and say 'wow you come from Afghanistan and you're a Muslim and you work in IT, maybe I can do that some day.

Image caption Pupils in Cathays say Hamed has helped them find determination to pursue the careers which appeal to them
Image caption Their ambitions ranged from becoming doctors to footballers to working in business and sales

"I think the nicest story I remember so far was this girl in year eight who looked up and me and said, in such a sincere way, 'do you think I can be a doctor?' and I said 'yes, of course you can be a doctor!'

"They have got teachers who can say 'you can be this or that', of course, but they just can't relate in quite the same way.

"And there are role models around but I don't think they've seen it first hand and had someone there to speak to.

"The perception is you have to come from a rich background or have a high IQ to do what you want to do, and I'm the opposite of that - English isn't my first language and I got three Us at A Level.

"So they can can see this Asian guy who was exactly the same in school as they are.

"The perception is the guy who's 'made it' has had luck or a privileged background but it doesn't have to be the case if you just keep trying, just keep going - eventually you will have that break."

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