“I haven’t seen my mother in three years, but I have her smile. Her smile is my smile. But when I get to talk to her she cries.” I was talking to a young man who sought asylum here unaccompanied from Eritrea, and of his family, he told me this. He was excited that I knew of Calais, the camp he spent time in where police twice broke his leg. He takes his English language study seriously. He has aspirations of gaining English fluency, working, and moving to London to be closer to the Eritrean Church there. He has local friends and always shows his teachers and social workers respect. He gets frustrated when other kids don’t show that sort of respect to adults and peers. My research is for children like him.
Catherine Ward, who recently graduated from Duke University, is a Rotary Scholar studying at the University of Cambridge. She is sponsored by Southwest Durham Rotary Club. Below is third update after having arrived in the U.K. See her earlier posts here and here.
My research here has been deeply meaningful. Here is just a snippet of where that meaning manifests:
I have interviewed practitioners in a variety of sectors in East England as I seek to better understand ‘belonging’ in educational spaces for unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASCs). Today, I had the chance to share my research with Cambridge Rutherford Rotary, my host club here. Last week, I had dinner with my Rotary host and his wife. Rotary’s support here has been splendid, and I enjoyed passing a Southwest Durham Rotary flag to my Cambridge hosts today at Queen’s College Cambridge. I am including a photo of me exchanging flags with the president of the club here — I will give you the Cambridge Rutherford Club flag for the Durham Southwest Club when I see you next. 🙂
Amazingly, one of the Rotarians here was stationed in Goldsboro, NC when he was in the Air Force, so he knew New Bern and Durham. Another man talked to me about having been to Raleigh before, and my host’s brother-in-law also lived in the Research Triangle area for his work. It’s certainly fun to see all the ways places I care about are connected around the world.
I am continuing to do my best to take advantage of everything I can at Cambridge. This weekend, I’m very excited that I’ll be able to go to the Cambridge v. Oxford Boat Race in London. It’s the biggest sporting event of the year here – I’m still new to rooting for any sport team that isn’t related to college basketball, as a North Carolina native and Duke alumna, but I’m excited for this new “battle of the blues.” This year, though, for the first time, I’ll be cheering for the lighter shade of blue as I watch the Cambridge Blues race down the Thames River! I’ll also get the chance to see a friend from high school who is from Shanghai but did a postgraduate degree in London. Rotary has made the world such a small place for me, and I am constantly in awe of all of the global connections.
I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had this year. I am getting very excited about my future trajectory and my plans for law school, and I just know that my time at Cambridge will color how I move forward in all aspects of my life. I will enter new academic spaces with a greater understanding of research depth and rigor, as well as a stronger understanding of how to connect my passion and empathy to meaningful work. What a gift Rotary has given me. I am endlessly thankful.