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A few minutes with Suad Ali…

Suad Ali

…who is a student on the BSc programme in Political Science at Linköping University (LiU) and is involved in fighting poverty and improving refugees’ situation in the world.

This autumn you’ll be going to Pittsburgh in the US to take part in One Young World, a global forum for young leaders from all over the world. Speakers in previous years have included Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the UN, and Nobel Peace Prize laureates Desmond Tutu and Muhammad Yunus. Why are you attending?

“Earlier this year I attended an international conference in Stockholm on environmentally sustainable development, a preparatory conference for the UN conference in Rio in June. It was arranged by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Environment and dealt with issues such as how to fight poverty in a sustainable way and the dumping of waste by industrialised countries in developing countries.
I was asked at the conference to apply to One Young World. A few weeks ago I was informed that I had been selected as a candidate and that I will therefore be representing Sweden at the meeting. I will also be representing LiU since my visit to Pittsburgh is sponsored by the University. It would have been difficult for me to go without that support, so I am very happy I got it. I will also be blogging from the conference.”

What’s on the programme for the four days in Pittsburgh?
“I haven’t seen the programme yet, but it’s a conference for young people with leadership qualities. The aim is for us to be inspired by the invited speakers, to get to know each other and to apply what we learn in our own communities.”

You don’t just attend conferences; you are also actively involved at home in fighting poverty and social injustice. What motivates you?
“My roots are in Somalia, so I can relate to the issues – they feel close to me. However I think most people really want to help in different ways, they just don’t know how. Last summer, for instance, I organised a fund raising campaign for the famine in the Horn of Africa. It began on a small scale, with me baking bread and selling it to raise money. Then a few more people got involved, we started going around knocking on people’s doors, organised collections around the city, spread the message via social media. It grew into a huge thing, a whole lot of people got involved, really wanted to help, and the papers and TV interviewed us. In a short time we raised SEK 60 000 which we donated to Doctors Without Frontiers and the aid organisation Islamic Relief.”

You are studying Political Sciences with the intention of becoming a diplomat. What do you think of the programme at LiU?
“I’m completely happy with it. The programme gives me the necessary knowledge, and then I complement that with placements at organisations. Many of the diplomats I’ve met at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs actually have a background at LiU, which was a bit unexpected, but great of course. That’s encouraging.”

This summer you’ll be working at the UN’s refugee organisation, UNHCR, in Stockholm. What will you be doing there?
“We’ll be working with various ways of highlighting the situation of refugees in the world. But I am also taking the opportunity of a placement at the Hunger Project, which fights poverty by supporting local entrepreneurial projects. I’ll have to do that in the evenings.”

How do you have time for everything?
“I often get that question. I don’t think it’s that difficult. If you want to do it, you find time.”

14 June 2012

Related Links

One Young World 
The Hunger Project  
Department of Political Science at LiU http://www.iei.liu.se/stat?l=en

Eva Bergstedt 2012-06-14

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