People of RCN

February 8, 2017

Hari Bahadur Tamang (’16 – ’19)

February 8th, 2017|

Hari Bahadur Tamang says he was born twice. As soon as he was born, he faced challenges. From a small village in Chitwan in southern Nepal, he had 11 siblings, and his parents were poor, and could not look after all the children properly, so all of them were sent out to work at a very young age. Hari went to work as a dishwasher in a hotel 10 hours from his village. He was 7 years old. One day a bus he was traveling on was caught by a bomb blast, and 53 people lost their lives. Hari was one of the 71 people who survived.

After this traumatic experience Hari’s perspectives changed. He was lucky to be alive, and he knew it. He appreciated life and was fortunate to gain supporters – individuals and organisations who provided him with a small amount of financial relief and work opportunities in homes and on a farm. He went to school again, but when his mother passed away in 2007, he returned home to look after his father. Eventually, thanks to the support of a sponsor, Hari applied for a UWC scholarship, and with the assistance of the Nepalese National Committee he was accepted to the Survivors of Conflict programme at RCN – a programme which the College runs in tandem with the Red Cross and the Rehabilitation Centre on our campus.

Receiving an RCN scholarship filled Hari with hope and excitement. Finally, he thought, he could just focus on his education and take control of his future. However, coming to a new country and the RCN community brought new challenges. English was the most difficult problem of all. In the beginning, everything was hard, but gradually, Hari relaxed, and the friendly, supportive RCN environment brought out his natural friendliness and curiosity. He realized that RCN is not just about academics and started participating in activities such as Norwegian folk dancing and sports.

The Foundation Year Programme is making a huge difference in his life, he explains. He is getting familiar with the IB Programme, the UWC movement, the Red Cross and the RCN community. He is becoming more confident and feels he is receiving a great deal of moral support. He is building his foundation to tackle not only the IB, but also other challenges. With smaller class sizes and a special focus on developing both basic and academic English, he feels well supported and motivated. His language skills are going from strength to strength, and his days have become much easier.

“My life has been challenging, but these challenges have taught me to never give up, to have hope, ask for help, grab opportunities and work harder.”

Written by Sonam (Nepal) and Angie

For profiles and news of other students and alumni, click here.

Alumni at Case Western

February 3rd, 2017|

As well as our biennial reunions on campus, we have also organised reunions for alumni and other supporters in London, Helsinki, Malmö, Reykjavik, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Oslo, Stockholm, in recent years and are planning an event in Costa Rica this April. The RCN University Office is an important part of our alumni engagement – supporting graduating students in choosing the right course and university and then staying in touch with them. Mark, our Senior University Counsellor, was recently visiting Case Western Reserve University – a partner university in the Davis UWC Scholar Program – along with other UWC university counsellors. Mark took the opportunity to meet up with recent alumni Akinola (Daniel) Akinbote (Nigeria – 2013-15) and Aya Bahij (Palestine in Lebanon – 2013-15).

Akinola is majoring in Polymer Science and Engineering with a Bio Materials track, which is essentially a minor Bio Engineering. He has already taken advantage of Case Western’s undergraduate research opportunities having done some research into breast cancer in his first year. Over that summer, he worked with the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa. Next summer he will be doing stem cell research alongside regenerative medicine.

Aya is majoring in Chemical Biology with minors in Cognitive Science and Economics. Aya has also joined a sorority at university, through which she does a lot of volunteering. Building on her personal experiences on arrival, she has taken the lead in the implementation of airport pickup for students, improving the international orientation, a Middle East Club and a discussion group on the human rights of Palestinians.

January 20, 2017

Mostak Rahman (’99 – ’01)

January 20th, 2017|

Losing my father whilst still a baby, living in poverty with a mentally ill teenage mother, life threw a curve at me at an early age. My grandmother could not afford two daily proper nutritious meals for us, and my uncle – at the age of 10 – had to quit school to earn money so that he could support four lives. This situation became a heavy burden for my extremely poor family – and I ended up in SOS Children’s Villages.

I grew up with 10 SOS siblings in a safe and secure environment with a lot of parental care. As a youth I started integrating with the outside society and realized that being brought up in an orphanage you were discriminated against by individuals in society and at school. I also realized that orphans were labeled as lower class and an object of pity.

1999 was the start of the next great turn in my life, when I won a scholarship to study at the UWC Red Cross Nordic. Through the ambitious academic education and not the least all informal learning that I was exposed to on campus, the RCN gave me an opportunity to discover my potential and thrive. I now see how important it was that the College so much emphasized mutual respect in addition to all the exciting knowledge that it opened up. Terms like peace, solidarity and sustainability was something I got clear ideas about both in their abstract and concrete forms – something to aspire towards.

Life is never without hardship, but after UWC I managed to study in Switzerland, USA and Norway, where I again managed to experience a verity of cultures in a climate of mutual respect. I attained a dual major Bachelor Degree in Business Administration and Hospitality management (BBA) from the Swiss Hotel Management School & Northwood University of Michigan. In 2011, I graduated with an MSc in Hospitality Leadership from the University of Stavanger. During my studentship at different institutes I got involved with students welfare activities and quality education. At the university of Stavanger, I served the institute and its students as the President of the International Students’ Union. Prior to joining UWC RCN I worked for SOS Children’s Village Norway as a coordinator in the Relation Marketing dept. and within the hospitality industry in Norway, USA & Switzerland.

Using the knowledge and skills learned at UWC, I have later managed to support many of my least fortunate SOS siblings and other youths. I have just started as an Oslo-based Development & Alumni Relations Officer at RCN, and am happy to join the team to advance the kind of education I myself have benefited from. Supporting education and personal nurture is a long term investment that makes individuals become resources for society and enable us to live with dignity. I am excited about the next stage of life with my wife Sagorika Chowdhury in Oslo and look forward to engage with all supporters of our task – to make education a uniting force.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill

Mostafizur (Mostak) Rahman

Jacob Yath Deng (’15 – ’17)

January 10th, 2017|

“The greatest thing any person could do is to help another person. So if you can aid the people around you – that’s enough; there is nothing greater than that.” Jacob lives by these values and they guide him in his academic pursuits. Aspirations to study pharmaceutical chemistry lie at the forefront of his mind. The reason for this specific area of interest is his ambition to later improve the public health system back home in South Sudan.

Jacob’s faith has prepared him and inspired his goodwill. His favorite book is the Bible and particularly important words for him come from Ecclesiastes 1: 9: “There is nothing under the sun that hasn’t been done so you should live your life to the fullest”. The book speaks to him about work and life in general. Living at RCN, Jacob‘s Christian values haven’t changed despite the secular environment. In his family back home he would attend church every Sunday and participate in other activities during the week as well. The church is a uniting factor in his community and when he reached a certain age, he himself became a Bible studies leader.

The academic drive that he possesses cannot however, be credited to anyone but Jacob himself. He was always eager to learn as a young child. Growing up with his grandmother, he didn’t attend school until he was seven. He would see his friends go to school and he wanted to take part as well. When his brother graduated and started working he put Jacob in school. There was never any need for external discipline due to Jacob’s self-sufficiency. Experiencing poverty in his early life made Jacob appreciate the privilege that education is and a wish to help others motivated him in his academics. Jakob has just returned to start the term in which he is going to graduate. He is aiming for further studies at University, most likely in the US, and later he wants to return home to apply the knowledge he has acquired.

Rose Esfandyari (RCN ’16 – ’18)