Rawda is one of our 2019 grantees of the Fulbright Foreign Student Scholarship. In this interview, she shares more about her LTE experience and starting her Master's Degree in Sports Management at Niagara University.
Back in 2019, Rawda Hamadneh decided to apply for the second time for a Fulbright Foreign Student Scholarship, which knowing Rawda now, is a testament to her tenacity and motivation in pursuing her dreams. Rawda went on to be nominated and selected for the award, and was accepted into the Sports Management Master's degree at Niagara University in 2020. Before the start of her program, Rawda was also selected to take part in an additional program preceding the start of her graduate school at University of Arizona. The 6 months Long-term English (LTE) program was there to support her in advancing her English language skills and adjust into her new life in the United States.
A few months ago, we interviewed Rawda and asked her a few questions about that first year between The University of Arizona and the start of her program at Niagara University in the state of New York.
Why did you apply for the Fulbright Program?
For many reasons, most importantly, because The Fulbright Program matches my ambition in pursuing higher education. The fully-funded program facilitates and provides what a student needs to study. It is also designed to harness the potentials of students in a creative environment. And that’s important to me; I seek such an environment so I can be my creative self.
I believe that The Fulbright Program was able to see what distinguishes me as a Jordanian and as a women in sports in the Middle East. From what I was told, I am the first Jordanian female who is studying Sports to receive a Fulbright award. Receiving the Fulbright Award in Sports Management has inspired a friend of mine who is willing to apply for the Fulbright Program and this makes me realize the mark every Fulbrighter can leave in the lives of others.
I believe that The Fulbright Program was able to see what distinguishes me as a Jordanian and as a women in sports in the Middle East. From what I was told, I am the first Jordanian female who is studying Sports to receive a Fulbright award.
Everyone knows, of course, that The Fulbright Program is considered to be one of the most prestigious educational and cultural exchange programs in the world, and this helps my parents knowing that their daughter is traveling on her own with such a program.
Can you share with us a favorite saying or quote that inspires you?
I have a lot of favorite quotes, I am also touched by the life of the late Mohammad Ali - the legendary American boxer. Hijabi wearing athletes also inspire me the most to blend in, insist on my goals and know that nothing comes easily. However, the quote that touches my soul is a quote by Oprah Winfrey where she says: “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” I believe that I always have the courage to dream big and life always surprises me in return. My father also used to tell me that “Whoever fears climbing mountains shall live forever between the ditches”. There is also a verse from the Quran “I will not cease until I reach”. These all quotes represent me and my ambition.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced?
The biggest challenge I faced is moving between Jordan, Europe, and the States in a very short time. I had to adapt quickly to new places, new timezones, and new tools to be able to make the best out of everything. Also, when I am talking about three countries, I am talking about three different cultures; Middle Eastern culture differs from the European culture and so on. However, one might find similarities between the European and Middle Eastern cultures as there is a linking point between them, however, the American culture differs completely, so I had to keep my basic principles and build on them.
Also, the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was one of the biggest challenges. I believe that this pandemic has changed the course of humanity and affected our spirits, our studies, and our lives, especially in the U.S. when more cases were being recorded and the focus of the world shifted. However, the idea of being an international student that lives in university dorms at that time made me realize the importance of looking at things wisely and in balance. Everything was and is uncertain and unknown, so I was able to overcome every obstacle I faced wisely alongside adjusting with my roommates to create a family atmosphere to support each other. I love to refer to my roommates and friends here as my international family because I consider them as a blessing. This all makes up for other things that I miss back home. I know I might have taken the initiative there to create that atmosphere, but it was all about opening up spaces to everyone to allow them to think freely and feel comfortable which is an important thing to me. And until now, all my friends from Fulbright and the university have maintained an amazing and unique relationship because we went through some challenging times together and supported one another. We also celebrated all kinds of holidays together; Easter, Ramadan, Christmas, our birthdays, etc.
I love to refer to my roommates and friends here as my international family because I consider them as a blessing. This all makes up for other things that I miss back home.
I was able to overcome the stress imposed by the pandemic by not watching the news constantly which was good. Also, I logged myself out from some of the social media platforms to be able to focus on my studies. One of the other things the pandemic has imposed on us is the fact that we have to stay home, and as a person who loves to workout, I was not able to do that at the gym anymore. However, the silver lining of this is that I expanded my view of what a gym can be; open spaces and my apartment became the gym I head to.
We want to thank Rawda for sharing her experience, and continuing to follow her dreams, while representing Jordan in the best of ways.