Syrian refugee in France at the top of dental studies


Omar Nahhas, 19, dominated the field of dentistry in the highly competitive first year of Joint Medical Studies in France, or PACES, in June. In an interview with a regional daily in Lorrain, in eastern France, the young Syrian refugee expressed his gratitude to all those who helped him along the way.

Omar Nahhas has an undisputed fluency in languages. But the adolescent is above all a model of discipline and hard work. When he arrived in France in 2016, Nahhas did not speak a word of French. Four years later, the young Syrian is a leading dental student at the prestigious Academia
NancyMetz and plans to become an orthodontist.

In an interview with the regional daily The
Nahhas did not want to discuss the reasons for his family’s departure from Syria, nor the details of his trip to France.

Instead, the teenager focused on his life after arriving in his new country and the obstacles he had to overcome. Having to enroll in an education in French, a language unknown to the boy, was one of the biggest challenges. But “three months later, I went back to… high school, a year behind the other students,” he says proudly.

Nahhas expressed his gratitude for “the support and generosity of the people who helped me enter Lycée Cormontaigne and learn French,” he told The
Language lessons were critical: “I was thrown into the French school as a child who can’t swim gets thrown into a swimming pool,” he said.

A stressful but rewarding academic year

But Nahhas rose to the challenge. In 2019, he graduated from high school, obtaining a “Baccalaureate S” (end of studies diploma with a scientific specialization, editor’s note) – with honors. The young Syrian refugee then enrolled in the highly competitive first year of joint medical studies (PACES), an exam only about a third of students pass, often only on their second attempt.

At the end of the first semester in December, Nahha placed 106th out of 2,200 students, earning a place in the dental specialty. The Syrian teenager admitted to losing weight “because of the stress” of the last school year.

Nahhas plans to continue his studies, and if all goes well, in six years he will be an orthodontist, the job of his dreams.


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