Waikato University student sets sail for world youth
15 January 2016
University of Waikato law and social science student Shaymaa Arif is one of 12 New Zealand delegates attending the Ship for World Youth (SWY) Programme in Japan.
The SWY programme, operated by the Government of Japan, brings together more than 240 youth leaders from 11 countries to study and discuss global issues while living on board a ship (SWY28) for six weeks. They set out on 14 January.
The ship will stop in Chennai in India and Colombo in Sri Lanka, before returning to Tokyo on 29 February.
“This is an experience that can change your life,” says Shaymaa. “I can’t tell you how excited I am.”
SWY delegates will attend workshops and seminars about disaster risk reduction, education, environment, information media, community development and youth entrepreneurship, and will do aid work during their stops in Chennai and Colombo.
“Because everyone comes from a different culture and background, discussing these topics with them will give me a totally new perspective on things,” Shaymaa says.
Working to solve some of these big global issues isn’t a new thing for Shaymaa.
She and her family emigrated from Abu Dhabi to New Zealand in 1996 but they’ve frequently travelled between the two countries ever since.
At 13 years old, Shaymaa joined her first human rights protest and subsequently sat on the Human Rights Council for the Abu Dhabi Model United Nations.
Now in her fourth year of a conjoint Bachelor of Laws and Social Sciences at Waikato, Shaymaa has made a big name for herself in the community. Her ongoing work in promoting justice and peace in Middle Eastern nations made her a finalist in the 2015 Waikato’s Women of Influence Awards.
“The situation in the Middle East and back home has been happening for quite some time and it keeps getting worse. While there’s lots of politics involved, I prefer to focus on the humanitarian side of things.”
Shaymaa’s been involved in many student clubs, including the University of Waikato Students for Justice in the Middle East, Law for Change Waikato and Amnesty International, helping to raise money for Syrian relief and spread awareness.
“Getting everyone together to do good is something that I’m really passionate about and I encourage young people to do that as well. We’re lucky to live in a time where we have more freedom to share our voice and actually make a difference,” says Shaymaa.