Interview with alum Haroon Rezaie, Class 2019
December 13, 2022
Please introduce yourself to those who do not know you.
My name is Haroon. I am from Afghanistan. I was born and raised there but I left the country at the end of 2015 and I came to the Netherlands together with my family. I was first in the Dutch education system, mostly taking classes to get a good command of the Dutch language. Finally, in 2017, I joined UWC Maastricht as a Promise Programme student in the DP.
What have you been up to since graduation from UWCM?
After the two years at United World College, I took a gap year. I took the gap year specifically to make sure all of the paperwork needed for me and my family to legally stay in the Netherlands was completed well and submitted in time. On top of that, I was doing my integration courses, so I kept working on my Dutch in order to prepare myself for the integration exam. I also continued volunteering at the InnBetween where I used to do my CAS service. After the gap year, I started studying at the University of Maastricht and currently I’m in my third year of European Studies. At the moment, I’m doing a minor in globalisation and inequality.
What was it and is it like to stay in Maastricht after graduation?
It was more of a natural and spontaneous choice for me to stay in Maastricht. First of all, because of my refugee status I couldn’t go to any other country for a long period of time. But that actually was not much of a problem because I knew I wanted to do European Studies and Maastricht University is well-known and has a very good reputation with this program. And at the same time, I wanted to stay in my new hometown together with my family. Another reason why I stayed in Maastricht was that I always felt comfortable here.
In what ways, you would say, have you been living the mission?
I think that the most important lessons that I took with me from UWC was the idea of mutual respect and embracing diversity. I feel that diversity is such an important part of my life ever since I attended UWC. UWC was very diverse, with many people from different backgrounds, from all over the world. Thanks to UWC, I am now well-prepared for active participation in a classroom with people from various backgrounds and it is easier to make connections and start a conversation. This also helped me with understanding and respecting other students’ points of view while at the same time challenging and sharing my ideas and opinions as well.
In what ways have you been giving back to the UWC movement?
Recently, I have been asked by the Peace Conference team to speak during the conference and I am excited about being the keynote speaker of the upcoming Peace Conference, formerly known as IPC. I’m really looking forward to being with the students, sharing my story and talking about peace through my lens. I also help with spreading the word about UWC via social media but also in my personal network. I am often in touch with Afghan students and applicants, answering their questions about life at UWC and my experience. On top of that, I have started supporting the national committee selections in Afghanistan by reviewing the applications.
Would there be any recommendations that you would like to give to other alumni regarding their way of living the mission?
I think it’s very important for alumni students and even for the current UWC students to identify the one thing that they take away with them. They can find a few pieces from the UWC values or their experiences, make it theirs and focus on nourishing this aspect. At the beginning, it might be a bit hard to find one’s way to live the mission and it is important to also think about how to give back to UWC or at least reconnect to see how things are going in the school or in the movement in general. For example, connect with the national committee or read the updates emails that come via UWC Maastricht Connect from Iva at UWC Maastricht or the newsletter from UWC International. Or join the UWC nearby and have a look at how things are going there and if you can contribute in any shape or form. You can then easily see what is happening and whether you can get involved, be it in person or online.