Rafa Al Helal

She/Her/Hers
2022

Explain why you are interested in this position:

I am interested in this position because I want to be more involved in the St. Olaf community, specifically the international students community. Although we are a very diverse community within ourselves, we share a lot in common as international students studying abroad. I have been enjoying my experiences everyday at St Olaf and it would not be possible without the advice and support my friends (including upperclassmen) give me. I want to be able to provide similar support to the incoming internationals and the current internationals.

What qualifications do you bring to this position?

I enjoy connecting with people. One of my new year’s resolution is to eat with someone out of my inner circle at least once a week. I am friendly by nature and not afraid to initiate conversation. I have been a Peer Counselor/Mentor for two years in my previous school and have been awarded the ‘Best Mum’ award for senior superlatives. This reflects my motherly nature; I am a good listener and mature than most people my age. 
I am adaptive and used to navigating cultural difference, even at home. My father is from Bangladesh and my mother from Indonesia, I was born in Indonesia but was raised in Saudi Arabia for a decade before moving back to Indonesia. In Indonesia, I went to a Sampoerna Academy Boarding School – a that was attended by Indonesians from all over the archipelago (even from Papua!) and for another two years I went to UWC Changshu China, a school that was attended by people from all around the globe. 
From these experiences, I have learnt about humility, communication, sensitivity, and genuineness. When navigating diversity, I think it’s important to remember that regardless of how different we appear to be, at the end of the day humility reminds us that we are all humans and more similar than different. Communication, sensitivity and genuineness go hand in hand. There have been several instances where I accidentally caused discomfort or offended the other person. Sometimes, people do not advocate for themselves, and it’s important to be sensitive enough to sense the other person’s feelings and to know how to communicate effectively. To turn a new page, it is not only important to communicate but also genuinely apologize and genuinely want to make up the situation.
At St Olaf, I was the Head of Branding & Design for Hult Prize and as PR for International Student Organization.

Mariam Mekha

She/her/hers
2020

Explain why you are interested in this position:

I am intrested to get to know the new students who are coming to the campous. As an immagrent student I would love to help out with the students who are coming from different places and listen to them when they need me.

What qualifications do you bring to this position?

A postive person
Honest
open minded
Love to work with others
organized

Zhanat Seitkuzhin

He/him/his
2022

Explain why you are interested in this position:

Serving a community is essential to my heart as it is a way of contributing to something meaningful. I spent the last two years at an Indian boarding school which brings people together from all over the globe. That experience made me realize how important cultural diversity is. At St. Olaf, we have a reasonable international community, and our voices are as important as that of the rest of the student body. I am happy that there is a structure that allows for the inclusion of different perspectives and concerns of various demographic groups on this campus. I spent the last two years on the receiving side of other people’s efforts in making the community more inclusive and tolerant, as I was not confident enough at taking action and speaking up. The main reason why I am interested in this position is to pay it forward and empower the people who are currently in similar shoes as I was in, once upon a time. Finally, I feel that my personal development is at the stage where I can be the “deliverer” of people’s voices. I am ready to dedicate my time and energy to being helpful and carry the responsibilities of an International Student Senator. I will champion this position with my redirected priorities and my growing ability to fit others’ concerns ahead of my own.

What qualifications do you bring to this position?

The past six months at St. Olaf have shown me that I genuinely love communicating with people from both similar and different backgrounds. This, and my good ability to make friends allowed me to build a trust-based connection among the international student community. I believe my communication will serve as a good start for this position as those people would not feel uncomfortable approaching me with their concerns. 
In addition, I can say with certainty that I will be able to manage my time upholding this position; since, from the first semester onwards, I managed to sustain outstanding academic performance while being a varsity athlete, the first-year representative of International Student Organization, and a member of the winning team for the Hult Prize’s OnCampus division- a social entrepreneurship challenge sponsored by the United Nations.
Additionally, I have developed an ability to stand out among people of different backgrounds and speak up in various settings such as the classrooms. This will ensure that the international perspective would have a passionate and involved voice in the Senate. 
As I mentioned in the previous question, I am ready to take responsibility for this position, and I firmly believe that I am capable of meeting and even exceeding the expectations of both the people I represent, and the SGA itself.