Mai Al Qaisi

Bethlehem to Exeter University, UK

"My name is Mai Al Qaisi, 19-years-old, a Palestinian refugee girl, who lived most of her life in a Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem City called Beit Jibrin. Three years ago I was like any normal Palestinian girl, who wants to finish her study, have any random job and get married since we live in a very conservative and close society.

In 2007 I got a full scholarship from Horizon Foundation to do the International Baccalaureate at Atlantic College. I was 16-years-old when I first arrived to the United Kingdom, knowing this is the beginning of a new journey. Regardless of all the stress, the hard work and homesick nights it was a marvelous, extraordinary, wonderful experience full of new life and friends from all over the world, who were beside me all the time as I learned about their cultures and traditions.

Horizon Foundation and Atlantic College taught me I donít need lots of money or power to help or save other people. I just need the mental capacity and the will. I joined two summer projects as a volunteer during the two years at AC, in Egypt and Rwanda. Those projects have corrected my thoughts. The thought that we Palestinians are the only persecuted and oppressed people on earth. I was wrong; there are other people suffering like us but in different ways.

After those two remarkable, superb, and magnificent years, I refused to come back to Palestine and be like anyone else. Luckily, Horizon Foundation was there for me again. They believed in me, and gave me the strength to apply for UK universities. I decided to go to university of Exeter to study BA Politics and International Studies. My plan for the future is to work with some international organizations and NGOs inside and outside Palestine, to develop and help my country as much as I can."