Zuwaina Daraai: Seeking change in big steps
Zuwaina Daraai, 21, Oman
My name is Zuwaina. I’m 21 and I live in Muscat, the capital of Oman. Actually, I come from another city, Al Buraimi, on the border with the United Arab Emirates, where I was born and raised until the age of five when my dad decided to change his job and we all moved to Muscat.
I’m interested in reading, music, sport and writing. I realized that I really liked reading when I was 15. I received my first novel by my host sister, and it was called Throne of Glass, which was a young adult high fantasy novel series by American author Sarah J. Maas. Then I had got my first kindle. I remember myself thinking, that it was the best thing in the world. I used to read whenever I could; between classes, before sleeping and whenever I could get time to do so basically.
I was also interested in sports from a really early age, especially horseback riding. At the age of 10, I started camel racing, because it was something new in the region for female to participate in camel racing competitions and shows. The highlight of my camel racing journey was in 2011, when I was honored to perform at the Royal Equestrian and Camel Festival in front of our Sultan which was one of the biggest festivals in the Middle East.
I graduated high school in May 2013 and received a full scholarship by the government at the University of Bradford, where I started in September of the same year. To be honest, I didn’t know what I wanted to do or be, and everything was happening so fast. After finishing my first year as a freshman, studying Accounting and Finance at the university, I told my parents that I wanted to take a gap year and go live abroad.
I started looking for exchange programs and I heard about the NESA exchange program through a friend, so I applied. I still remember receiving a call from the American Embassy telling me that I was one of four people accepted for the elite Near East, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa Undergraduate Exchange Program (NESA UGRAD) administered by the U.S. Department of State. It was one yearlong exchange program at a U.S. university.
During my time studying abroad, I found myself interested in history and social work classes. I took African-American History, African-American Movement, Human Rights Movement, Religion Studies and Public Speaking. In my free time, I would volunteer at Saginaw Rescue Mission and cook for the homeless. On Thanksgiving Day in 2014, I volunteered with the local rescue mission, making a total of 350 apple pies for the homeless during the holidays.
In November 2016, I was invited to participate in The Bahrain Universities Model United Nations, which is a regional leader in promoting short term experiential education program engaging youth in current global issues. Annually, 200 university students from the region attend this conference. The aim of this program is to help us become good global citizens; and through this experience, I developed a stronger interest in the U.N. and its whole purpose.
Further readings: Zuwaina’s GYV portfolio
I enjoy interacting and meeting new people and finding ways to help them have uplifting experience. People find me to be an upbeat, self-motivated team player with excellent communication skills. These skills helped me a lot in my summer internships and training. For the past several years I have worked in six different companies and organization, in both private and governmental sector. I consider myself as a dedicated, outgoing, and a team player, which granted me a position in the student council. I see myself in the future working as a diplomat and that is why I consider participating in the Youth Assembly at the United Nations is a great way to get a sense of responsibilities and acquire the needed skills to fulfill this position.