My name is Sabrina, a sophomore at Loyola majoring in Cybersecurity, while minoring in both Criminal Justice and Arabic. I am currently a third semester student with ustaadha Sawsan. My passion for learning the Arabic language stems from an experience I had from the summer of 2013, a six-week journey I’ll never forget.
During the summer of 2013, my family hosted three girls from Afghanistan seeking medical attention through the program, Solace for the Children. Samira, 13, Rokhsar, 10, and Bibi, 11. These three girls are some of the most inspiring people I have ever met and continue to motivate me to combine humanitarian action with international studies to ultimately strengthen international security. When I met Samira, Rokhsar, and Bibi, I was only 14, having little understanding of the suffrage that many were enduring in the Middle East. Although I was naïve, I was very excited to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity.
At first, the girls had difficulty adjusting to American life, speaking little to no English before traveling to the United States. The oldest, Samira, spoke some English as it was her third time traveling to America for skin grafts. My favorite part of the time we spent together was being able to connect with them on an individual level, learning their interests and talents. The girls loved when I did their hair and makeup, saying they wanted to look like me. We had such much fun playing with different styles of hair and swimming in our pool. We also traveled to different vacation spots in North Carolina and Michigan to let them experience even more of the American culture.
The girls always held such a positive outlook on life, ready to take on each next adventure. This attitude is something I have continued to carry with me as life goes on. I still think about all of them each and every day, and call them my sisters as I hold them near and dear to my heart. From this experience, I gained a whole new perception on the world; allowing me to realize just how lucky I am to be living with such privilege, while also showing me how important it is to help those struggling in undeveloped and war stricken communities.
After that summer, I continued working with children in Afghanistan the following year, helping students living in Kabul. Two days a week, I would tutor students in English over Skype, helping them read and write for assignments due in class. Because these students were able to speak some English, we were able to connect and learn about each other’s’ lives. Sophomore year through senior year of high school I continued tutoring students. At Loyola, I joined the Loyola Refugee Outreach Program to keep involved. I was able to tutor refugees currently living in Chicago, helping young students complete their homework at a local library. Soon after, I learned about a possible study abroad option in Jordan to aid refugees and hope to be accepted into the program this upcoming summer 2019! I hope to be an intern and provide relief to Syrian refugees finding asylum in Jordan and continue to spread positivity among those suffering around the world. Gaining a greater knowledge of the social, political, and cultural context that makes up the country of Jordan will allow me to broaden my global perspective on human suffrage and allow me to continue my journey in protecting the freedoms and rights of humanity. I am thankful for all of the wonderful experiences I have gained so far and cannot wait for the future ones!