Reina Sultan (Jordan)

Reina Sultan recently graduated from UCSB with honors as a Political Science major (International Relations) and French minor. As a student fundraiser and subsequently a fundraising supervisor at the UCSB Annual Fund, she raised nearly $170,000 for student resource programs. She strove to involve herself in several organizations, holding leadership positions in both her sorority and Associated Students over the course of several years. During her junior year, she was awarded the prestigious Philip & Aida Siff Educational Foundation Scholarship in recognition of her academic achievements. While interning in Washington D.C. that same year, she was given the opportunity to represent UCSB at UC Day, a yearly event aimed at lobbying California representatives to better serve the UC system. She just ended her time working as an English teaching assistant in France, where she worked with high school students in priority education zones. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with Collateral Repair Project in Amman, Jordan. The daughter of Lebanese refugees, she feels very strongly about advocating for and volunteering with refugee communities displaced by violence. After returning from Jordan, Reina recounted her time there by saying, "I wish I could express in words how meaningful and formative my time with CRP was. AP gave me the opportunity to work with and amplify the voices of beautiful, resilient refugee women in Amman, Jordan. I urge everyone with the means and privilege to make change with an organization like CRP to seize that opportunity immediately".



Inshallah

17 Aug

I’ve been avoiding writing this final blog because it’s the final goodbye from my fellowship and (as everyone at CRP knows) I hate goodbyes. I’ve been back in the states for a week now, so I’ve decided it’s safe for me to write this blog without bursting into tears.

Professionally, this fellowship meant more than I could have imagined. There were challenges, triumphs, ups, and downs of trying to get this embroidery program up and running. I gained program management skills, learned how to create a budget, and more. I saw what made international development such a special field. To work at CRP and specifically at the Hope Workshop was such an honor. CRP is special because the programs they offer and aid they give reflects the communities’ needs, not the needs of western people who think they know the solutions. When I went into the Hope Workshop, the women were happy to be there and excited for a chance to work on something they felt was meaningful. This made the project meaningful to me. I met amazing staff members, interns, and volunteers at CRP, some of whom I think will stay in my life for a very long time. The AP traininFullSizeRenderg introduced me to wonderful people in different fields, who I hope to lean on when I need career advice or professional help. This fellowship was not something I anticipated doing, but it solidified my desire to work with vulnerable and disenfranchised communities. I want to be involved in work that empowers those who are the most resilient and deserving among us. I am proud of what I helped build at the Hope Workshop, but the brunt of the work is being done by the amazing beneficiaries.

The beneficiaries I met at CRP were some of the most resilient, kind, amazing humans I had ever been lucky enough to know. The women in Hope Workshop came to be like mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers to me. They nurtured me with meals, presents, and love regardless of how much they had to give. I am so lucky to know them and so honored that they trusted me to share their stories with the world. When I left, I prayed to see them all again. I can only hope that they will be happily resettled or back in their home countries, safe again. Knowing the women at the Hope Workshop so intimately only makes me more passionate about doing my part to represent them at home. We are not doing enough for refugees. Until each refugee is resettled, given the opportunity to work, and reunited with their families, I will not be satisfied. These people fled horrors that most of us are lucky enough to not be able to even fathom. They are stuck in limbo, living in a country where they have no work and few rights. Still, they smile and give and share their light with everyone they meet. We should be so lucky to accept some of these people in the U.S. These Muslim, Christian, Catholic, Sabaean women who all support each other could teach our country a few things about tolerance.

Inshallah means ‘if God is willing.’ If you were raised by Arab parents, this meant ‘no’ for your entire childhood. If you’ve lived in the Middle East, you hear this constantly. Whether it be your taxi driver saying ‘inshallah’ when you ask him to take you somewhere (scary), your response to your boss when he asks you to come in early, or a positive nudge at the end of 80% of your phrases.

Inshallah, all of the refugees I met are reunited with their families somewhere safe and with opportunity.

Inshallah, I will see them all again.

Inshallah, I will be able to show people how important opening our hearts to those who are different from us is.

Please reach out to me if you have any questions about my time in Jordan or want to talk about the refugee crisis. I would LOVE to chat. The best way to reach me is through email: reinasultan@gmail.com.

Posted By Reina Sultan (Jordan)

Posted Aug 17th, 2017

1 Comment

  • Bassem Sultan

    August 18, 2017

     

    If I just say I’m proud of you I would be doing an injustice to the incredible compassionate work you have accomplished. I applaud your humanity…I Love you more than you could ever imagine ♥️❤️

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