When Sumaya arrived at UWC Red Cross Nordic in July 2015, she new little of what was awaiting her. She had very basic English, no IT knowledge, and she thought there would only be Norwegians on campus. Finding herself surrounded by different cultures and facing many immediate challenges was not easy in the beginning, but this is what she now is most grateful for: “In my culture and religion, peace and help are very important values, but I knew nothing about other realities, other issues around the world. Living with other people of my own age who were going through similar experiences in different countries, really opened my eyes and made me realize we are all part of the same picture.”
As part of the Red Cross spirit, Sumaya soon started to get involved in all kinds of humanitarian activities – working with refugees at the Førde Centre for Asylum Seekers, being part of the College’s Amnesty International group or fundraising for the student-led charity, SAFUGE. In all of this she came to appreciate the value of being involved: “Helping is a way of happiness that people often fail to understand”
As a recent graduate, all this learning has not waited to materialize. Just two weeks after Sumaya arrived to her host house in Spain this summer, the Aquarius ship with over 600 refugees docked at the port of Valencia, and she herself volunteered with the Red Cross Emergency Committee helping to translate for the more than 300 Arabic-speakers. “It was wonderful to get to see these people smile again after such a long journey. No one knows what they have been through.”
Sumaya will start her studies with a full scholarship at Methodist University this autumn. Looking back at her experience at RCN, the most valuable learning she finds is all the cultural sharing and learning that is going on. A learning she will carry for life.