Podcast: ‘Let me tell you what Syria was like before the war’ – Hassan Akkad’s journey from Syria to the UK

Anyone who is familiar with comedian, Adam Buxton’s podcast is quick to realise that this isn’t one of the usual ‘Ramble Chats’ he has with various musicians, actors, comedians, producers, punctuated with his signature jingles – an element which almost feels out of place on this particular podcast.

For this podcast, Buxton has a ramble chat with a man by the name of Hassan Akkad, who arrived in Europe as an asylum seeker in 2012. Originally an English teacher from Damascus in Syria, he was involved in the 2016 BBC series Exodus where cameras were given to a few migrants travelling to Europe to document their journey and the challenges they face along the way.

When Akkad arrived in the UK, he was struck by the considerable lack of knowledge people had about migrants, having been asked such questions like ‘why do Syrian’s have smart phones?’. Coming from a very typical, middle class background in Syria, he felt it was incredibly important to share this individual, intimate perspective of what life was like before the war and also his story of how and why he left Syria. He was struck by just how often we don’t hear stories like his and, perhaps more importantly, how these stories and sharing details about his life helped to build connections with people in the UK.

The podcast itself is just slightly longer than an hour, but very much worth a listen as it gives a fascinating insight to being faced with making the colossal decision to leave your previous life behind and the harrowing journey and challenges migrants face. It very much hammers home the idea that this is something that could happen to any of us.