Dr Arif Ali: reflections on World Refugee Day

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On World Refugee Day 2022, English Language Partners (ELP) is delighted to share Dr Arif Ali’s story


Arif is a former refugee who’s been living in Aotearoa New Zealand since 2012. He lives in Lower Hutt with his wife and two daughters (aged seven and 11) and manages two of ELP’s busy centres: Hutt and Porirua.


Arif is a Hazara, born in Quetta, Pakistan. After a terrorist attack on his work (university) bus in 2012, in which he lost friends and students, Arif fled Pakistan and came to Aotearoa for his safety.


Since then, Arif’s been working in the education and community sector. He’s worked as a teaching fellow, trainer, tutor, and lecturer at various organisations including Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington Institute of Technology, Stats NZ and the Newtown Community Centre. He’s also worked as Senior Advisor Community Engagement for the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terrorist attack on the mosques.


Arif completed a PhD in information systems from Victoria University’s School of Information Management in 2017.

Dr Arif Ali, manager, English Language Partners Hutt & Porirua


Since joining ELP in May, Arif’s been enjoying working with his two teams. He specially loves talking to ELP’s learners and hearing about their achievements and goals. Arif is looking forward to applying his cultural and linguistic skills to offer fit-for-purpose services to help people participate actively and contribute to society.


In addition to his work at ELP, Arif is a member of Kāpuia, a Ministerial Advisory Group established by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to oversee and advise the Government on its response to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on the Christchurch mosques, and to make New Zealand a safer, more inclusive country for everyone.


Arif is also an active member of various Kiwi Afghan community groups and engages with government and non-government organisations providing settlement services to migrant and refugee background communities.


Every year on 20 June, people and organisations around the world celebrate World Refugee Day. Arif believes the Day highlights aspects of refugee life and the challenges they face for the reminder of their lives.

He considers that their challenges are not only in their previous country but are also in their new home country. While in their home country they feel unsafe and face discrimination, in their new country the challenges are related to feeling unwelcome, unable to participation fully or to feel a sense of belonging and inclusion in their new society.  


According to Arif, one of the ways to help overcome these challenges is to highlight the financial, social and educational contribution former refugees make in their new country. The resilience and hard work of former refugees, and the diversity of skills and views they can share are key ingredients for a healthier and more cohesive society.


Arif believes we all must tap into and benefit from these significant contributions and skills.

English Language Partners thanks Dr Arif Ali for sharing his personal story and views on this important day.

World Refugee Day 2022's theme is "Whoever. Wherever. Whenever. Everyone has the right to seek safety". For more information about this important day visit the UNHCR website: https://www.unhcr.org/world-refugee-day.html

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