Aria: ISEP Service Learning Program in Barcelona (April 2021)

For my leadership through learning course I was privileged to volunteer for the Organisation of Islamic Relief. My mentor Ahlam was an amazing woman who is based in Barcelona. I found her passion and determination to help others inspiring and challenged me to reflect on what I can do in my day to day life. My central tasks revolved around fundraising for an Islamic Relief project named ‘Vida para la Agua” or ‘Water for Life.’ The project focuses on providing sustainable water resources for isolated communities.

Through the fundraiser I learnt that a large proportion of African women have to walk on average 6km a day to access clean water. Furthermore, a devastating estimate of 800 million people do not have access to clean water. Not only does the campaign provide water resources, it also establishes facilities that educate communities surrounding hygiene and water sanitation. I felt lucky to be a part of such an amazing project that creates such a meaningful, positive impact for these communities.

A key thing I took from this experience was acknowledging the vast range of opportunities that I am given as a student in New Zealand. It is easy to forget about the hardships that occur overseas when we get caught up in the business of our lives; being part of the Islamic Relief project highlighted my privileges as a kiwi and urged me to use my platform effectively.

The greatest challenges I faced were working both cross culturally and over different time zones. Efficient and good communication is needed when working on different time zones to negotiate when meetings should be held and when deadlines should be set. The added cultural and language barriers further contributed to this adversity. However through this program I was able to enhance my communication skills cross-culturally and learnt how to be kind yet also clear when getting my points across.

I aspire to work globally, thus I know having the ability to effectively work cross culturally will be immensely useful in my future. Furthermore, learning the skills to co-operate and work together via zoom is an important skill to have during these unprecedented pandemic times.

I thoroughly enjoyed Maria’s seminars and was able to take a lot of valuable knowledge that I know I will carry with me throughout my future professions! I am grateful for this program and the amazing Maria and Ahlam who organised and mentored me through it, muchas gracias! I encourage other students thinking of undertaking this programme to do so – as it is so rewarding!


University of Auckland – ISEP Study Abroad

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