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".

Reflecting on… Ramadan

02 Jun

OOOORRRROOOOUAAAHWWAAAA. Nope, that’s not a whale. Just my stomach.

There is nothing like a grumbling (see above) stomach and a parched throat to blow a normal situation wildly out of proportion. Yesterday, the late afternoon brought with it a near temper tantrum as I wrestled with a faulty portable router which failed to bring me Wi-Fi.

The climax of the Great Wi-Fi Crisis of 2017

The climax of the Great Wi-Fi Crisis of 2017

I know it sounds petty, but this girl was as hangry as you can get. I pouted and resigned to my bed for a nap, as any reasonable adult would. When I awoke, I felt guilty. Guilty because I was lamenting miniscule problems as if they were the end of the world- during Ramadan, no less. “Yaaybchoum,” I can almost hear my mom admonishing me. That would be a resounding “SHAME ON YOU” for all of those who have never been scolded by a Lebanese mother.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. From sunrise (suhur or fajr) to sunset (iftar) for this holy month, Muslims refrain from eating and drinking anything. We also (try to) give up vices like cursing, smoking, gossiping, etc. This is all done to be closer to God and to remind us of those who are less fortunate. How wholly insensitive to be so caught up in my own problems that I forgot the main thing I was supposed to be concentrating on. So, I was without Wi-Fi while some people were without food. I decided to make a change. In conjunction with fasting, I decided to begin listening to WFP’s podcast Hacking Hunger every night as I ate my iftar dinner (thank you to one of our trainers, Ash, for the recommendation). I want to make myself more aware of the plight of those less fortunate and give more of an effort to help them; zakat, or charitable giving, is one of the five pillars of Islam and something I plan to take very seriously this Ramadan.

Being in Amman, watching the taxis roar by, it is easy to forget that in this country there are nearly 2 million refugees.Not all of them are struggling for food and water, but the majority are. In fact, according to the World Food Programme, 85% of households either in camps or in urban centers were food insecure (2015). This is only made worse by the fact that refugees do not have the legal right to work in Jordan, giving them few options to feed their families. Some accept poor working conditions, pull children from school, or forego meals.

View from my apartment- surprisingly calm for a street in Amman

View from my apartment- surprisingly calm for a street in Amman

The WFP gives food vouchers, but limited funding means not everyone gets enough, especially when food insecurity is getting worse. The organization I will be working with, Collateral Repair Project, provides emergency food aid, but they do more than that. The Hope Workshop that I will be volunteering with teaches women skills that they can use to generate income for their families. They say if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for life. Similarly, if you give a woman shawarma, she eats for the day. If you teach her to embroider and make marketable handicrafts, she and her family eat for life. If you think this type of empowerment is important, like I do, make sure to look out for our Global Giving Appeal on June 20th, when ALL donations will be matched.

The point is: we should take a minute to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. The problems we see as tragic and unsolvable are often nothing compared to the struggles of those in much harder positions. So, next time you: curse your Wi-Fi for being so slow, whine about being hungry, or groan because your phone is plugged in too far away from where you’re sitting, I challenge you to take a second and write to your senators about accepting refugees, donate to the World Food Programme, or advocate on behalf of those in situations much worse than yours. If nothing else, remember you’ve probably got it pretty good.

Posted By Reina Sultan (Jordan)

Posted Jun 2nd, 2017


  • Alex Goldstein

    June 2, 2017


    You are such an inspiration! We should all be a little bit more grateful for everything in our lives! Love you <3

    • Reina Sultan (Jordan)

      June 3, 2017


      Thank you so much, Alex! Love you too.

  • Fadia Girardeau

    June 2, 2017


    You are such an inspiration and a breath of fresh air on a hot summer day in Ramadan. The future is yours to shape any way you
    want it. Keep it up my love you are a better person than a lot of us have dreamed to be.
    God bless you and keep you safe and give you the will and power to achieve your goals . ❤❤❤❤

    • Reina Sultan (Jordan)

      June 3, 2017


      Thank you so much! I hope to continue to make you proud 🙂

  • Selenee Flores

    June 2, 2017


    Truly amazing and tangible work you’re doing here Reina! Everyday you inspire those around you and I am thrilled that you will be documenting your days doing this amazing work. May God bless you and give to the strength to be fierce in your endeavors these next few months.

    • Reina Sultan (Jordan)

      June 3, 2017


      Thanks, Selenee! I am so happy and lucky to have your support.

  • Karen Delaney

    June 4, 2017


    Great reflection, Reins! So proud of you and the work you are doing. There is so much ahead, and I can’t wait to read it all here. Beijos

    • Reina Sultan (Jordan)

      June 6, 2017


      Thank you, Karen. I can’t wait for what is ahead! Bisous Bisous <3

  • Ann Huo

    June 4, 2017


    Hilarious and inspirational!

  • Nicole

    July 7, 2017


    Definitely a good reminder to be grateful for what we have and see what we can do for others

    • Reina Sultan (Jordan)

      July 9, 2017


      Thanks for reading Nicole!

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