Shatha Al-Khomour

Palestine to Atlantic College, UK

"The journey started with the Horizon Foundation through Bait Jibreen Centre in one of the three refugee camps in Bethlehem city. I was a volunteer there for couple of years where the main aim was to help the people, especially the children, the ones who going to build the future of our country, through different projects, trying to open a small window for them, away from conflict and the daily difficulties they face.

The Horizon Foundation supported the Centre, their greatest project being scholarships for students who work there - to the University of Bethlehem and the studying abroad scholarships to Atlantic College. I was lucky enough to have one of these four scholarships. The chance to go to an international school, living in the UK for two years, was not an easy decision, neither for me nor my parents - the wall of fear of the West as an Arab had to build through the years, and the culture of the Arab, which puts lots of boundaries, especially for females. But, by the support of my family, and the Bait Jibreen Centre belief in me, I decided to grab the chance and take advantage of every possible minute.

I remember my feelings when I stepped my first foot in the College. Even though I knew it is going to be the greatest experience I would ever have, fear overwhelmed me - living in a foreigner country with people I have no idea about, and thinking about my poor English, the difficulties I might face with my Arabic Islamic background. But that all vanished once I discover the beauty of this place, the beautiful manners everyone shared, the welcoming, understanding and respect. My appreciation started to grow every day, realizing this real life-changing experience I have never dreamt about. The castle by the sea, where I learned how to express myself freely, respect and accept others, despite the differences. I learned that, as individuals and groups, we could make a difference in this world, we could make it a better place to live in. I would never be grateful enough for the Horizon Foundation, for making a better person of me.

And the journey hasn't come to an end. After graduating from Atlantic College I have been accepted at Essex University for 2010. Atlantic College was just the first step in my education and none of this would ever happen without the Horizon Foundation."