The Loretto Volunteer Program is no longer accepting applications for the 2010-2011 term. We're looking forward to welcoming 5 DC volunteers, 1 New York City volunteer and 1 St. Louis volunteer in late August!
Here's a dispatch from our summer Loretto Volunteer Farah, who is working at Loretto at the UN. Reprinted from the Loretto at the UN newsletter.
My name is Farah, and I am the newest member of the Loretto team at the UN. Here's a little about me:
I come from Iraq, the land that is mentioned in history books as Mesopotamia - a land where love and war took it as a home. I came to the U.S. about two years ago as I got accepted at Dominican University of California in lovely Marin County. I applied to Dominican through a program called The Iraqi Student Project, started and run by Theresa Kubasak and Gabe Huck. When Gabe and Theresa visited Damascus, Syria in 2005 to study Arabic as a way to spend their years of retirement, they were both struck by the number of Iraqi refugees in that tiny old city. In that year, Syrian records estimated the number of Iraqi refugees in Syria to be a little over a million. Most of these refugees are young men and women who could not find their way to education because of security and segregation reasons. You see, after the war started in 2003, chaos took place almost immediately. Crimes of revenge against one another were committed because of the absence of legal institutions, and many women were kidnapped, brutally raped and killed in many parts of Iraq if these women were ever seen going to school. These young men and women had no other choice but to leave their childhood memories and future hopes behind and walk away to an unknown destiny.
Gabe and Theresa, as peace activists, thought of finding a way to bring restitution to Iraq and Iraqi people, "What is there to do to save these young men and women?" said Gabe in one of the many interviews he and Theresa held to bring awareness of this important project. Education is a key element in developing nations, especially in Mesopotamia which was highly developed thousands of years ago. Iraq must regain its heritage, and that's why these American activists started The Iraqi Student Project.
I applied but I was skeptical of what I was about to get into. It all sounded too good to be true to come and study in a university in America, the country that invaded my country, its soldiers marching down my neighborhood with their rifles pointed at my people. But once I met with Gabe and Theresa and knew it is a reach out from the American people to the Iraqi people and no governments were involved, I then regained my faith in humanity and everything that has to do with "doing good for the sake of good." I applied, and got accepted at Dominican University, and now I have completed my second year of school and looking forward to what is yet to come.
But, in the meantime, The Iraqi Student Project helped me to seek this internship at the Loretto office at the UN. Since I am majoring in political science and my main interest is social justice and women and girls' education worldwide, I found a new home where I can do exactly the things that I have always wanted to do. It feels so right that I believe I was born to do this, and I'm not kidding! Every single page I read on NGO works, every presentation, meeting and orientation I have attended so far has not just given me the knowledge of what NGO's do at the UN, but also the feel of gratitude to be here and being able to be an observer and a member of this familial community. As I was telling my boss yesterday, Sally Dunne, "I feel blessed!" Indeed, if there is a word that can sum up my journey from a country torn apart by wars, to being a despised refugee, to experiencing a new chapter of my life in America, I believe I feel blessed, because I have lived, I have seen, I have witnessed and now I am in the process of being achieved.
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