REFUGEE YOUTH ADVOCATE.

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Viyan. BUSINESS.

What’s your background?

I’m from Kurdistan. I came here as a refugee with my family when I was a little girl. It’s a challenge sometimes to balance the different cultures, but I do enjoy it. I initially chose UC to be close to my friends and family, and I’ve stayed because I really love the people, the support and the campus environment.

How do you find the cultural experience at UC?

Really good. My lecturers understand me and I’ve been able to bring my past experiences into my studies. There’s a strong sense of connection and a great diversity of people here at UC. I can’t imagine being anywhere else!

Tell us about HabibSoc, the club that brings Middle Eastern Culture to UC?

My friend and I were sitting in our living room and chatting about how cool it would be to bring Middle Eastern dancing and food to UC and introduce people to our world. HabibSoc was launched last year with the aim of bringing all the habibis' and habibtis' together. There are lots of Middle Eastern students at UC and HabibSoc provides a way for them to connect.

What other initiatives are you part of?

I’m an executive for the New Zealand National Refugee Youth Council. We connect, engage and advocate for refugee youth all over New Zealand. I also run the Canterbury branch. We do a lot of work with refugees here at UC. There are so many students here with a refugee background. I’m really passionate about helping them by sharing my knowledge about the uni.

"At UC you can expand your horizons and your knowledge. You become known for who you are. You are no longer just defined by your background."

Have you felt welcomed as a Muslim at UC?

Absolutely. As a Muslim it’s nice to know that there are prayer rooms around the campus. But beyond that, there’s support for everyone here. From free health care and counselling to the Disability Support Centre, there’s help on hand for all students when it’s needed.

Has UC changed you in any way?

I’ve definitely learned a lot from being here. At high school, I found that the cultural view was much more limited because it’s a smaller group. At UC you can expand your horizons and your knowledge. Plus, you become known for who you are. You are no longer just defined by your background.

How would you describe the overall UC experience?

Studying here has been a pleasure. Everything is close together and everyone knows each other. UC is very diverse and open to all genders, ethnicities and sexualities. We truly are one community. I’ve absolutely loved it.

If you had to sum up UC in a sentence it would be…

"A place of belonging", because I really believe that there is a place for everyone at UC.

必威