Alumna Rafah speaking up and sharing her story

December 11, 2023

Alumna Rafah on stage of event

Please introduce yourself to those who do not know you.

My name is Rafah and I am from Syria. I am an alumna of UWC Maastricht from 2022. I am a Covid alum of UWC, so my experience is probably a bit different than that of most other alumni. 

What’s your favourite memory from UWCM?

I cannot think of one specific memory. When I remember UWCM, I immediately recall the enormous number of life-changing conversations, with teachers, residence mentors, my co-years and other students. For me, UWC is really just about sharing your thoughts and ideas, listening to others, and seeing what resonates with you and what doesn’t while exploring different perspectives. I think that UWC is the best place to have a meaningful conversation because most people are very open to talking about even more sensitive issues and it’s also a safe space so you get the nice combination of talking about at times difficult topics while you have the privilege to do this in a safe space. One of my favourite conversations was one with Ajay, my film teacher, I remember that I was talking to him about feeling angry about things happening in the world and he helped me to see that one cannot hold all the anger of the world, one can empathize but one does not need to carry the anger that’s not their own. 

What have you been up to since you graduated from UWCM?

Life has taken a very interesting turn since I graduated. I decided to stay in the Netherlands which was both a good and a bad thing for me. I am now taking my second gap year and in the meantime, I have been able to pick up a lot of useful skills. I learned more about photography, I did an internship in audiovisual production and I have done a lot of volunteering during art events. In addition, I also started powerlifting. 

In what ways have you stayed connected with the UWC movement and how have you been giving back?

After I graduated I wasn’t very connected with the UWC movement, I was in touch with some UWC friends but also not all that much, to be honest. I needed a bit of a break, I was a bit overwhelmed and of course, while I wanted to give back, I had no idea how. It all changed in 2023 when I was asked to speak during the Female Empowerment fundraising event organized by the Advancement Team of UWCM in Amsterdam. That event reignited the UWC light in me and helped me to see that by sharing my story I can help UWC Maastricht to spread the message and eventually bring more funding for the scholarships. More recently I got to share my story and my UWC experience during the Amplify Her conference focused on women’s visibility. And again, this way the UWC mission reached new audiences that are now interested in getting involved and supporting UWC Maastricht. For me, it is an opportunity to share my story and also give back to the UWC movement. 

To sum it up, I am really happy that sharing my story has helped to get UWC more exposure, more donations and finally more scholarships for students.