Kimia appreciates that knowledge, skills, and a broad network of colleagues, mentors, experts, and other contacts are necessary for effective activism. She appreciated the opportunity to participate in the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship Program (BFTFP). Through workshops, conferences, and lectures, she learned about global social issues and met people with diverse skills, backgrounds, and experiences. Kimia hopes to motivate others to join her in dedicating themselves to positive social change.
As a teenager living in Roeselare, Kimia’s mind was focused on her Greek and Latin studies – but she was also restless. She was acutely aware of the world outside her high school, her city, and even her country. “I’m a citizen of the world. I feel like I belong to the family of humanity,” she explains. Since a young age, Kimia has been passionate about finding connection to a global community: “Home is where my heart takes me. Home can be everywhere in the world as I love traveling.”
For Kimia, youth is a time to welcome new ideas and experiences. “It’s very difficult to define my identity because I feel like it is not complete yet,” she says. “There are lots of experiences and people that help form my identity – and so it’s constantly changing.” One of those experiences that helped shape her future was the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship (BFTF) through the U.S. Embassy in Belgium.
BFTF participants from the US and Europe gather on a US college campus for a four-week exchange program designed to foster relationships among young Europeans and Americans. Since Kimia’s interests lie in philosophy and politics, she enjoyed the lectures, seminars, and workshops on topics such as promoting democracy, economics, and conflict resolution. Perhaps most, she enjoyed the diversity of opinions she encountered among her peers and mentors. “I love to have conversations with people to get to know how they feel about politics and society at large, and what kind of improvements they would like to make,” she explained.
Through workshops, lectures, and networking opportunities, the BFTF program helps prepare participants for a future committed to activism and global change. Kimia appreciated the opportunity to do volunteer work for the first time. “I learned so much. It was all like one big adventure,” she says. Best of all, Kimia enjoyed connecting people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Besides making new friends, Kimia appreciated meeting with faculty members, refugee children, and experts in specific fields. “It was very inspiring to meet with so many people that make a difference in society. I didn’t expect to become part of such a vast network.”
Kimia is optimistic about her future in activism and hopeful about social change. “My goals and my hopes for the future are that I want to work with people that have the same passions as I do, people willing to make improvements to society,” she says. Those improvements must start with the most basic freedoms, she believes: “I truly hope that everyone finds a place that he or she can call home. I wish everyone had the freedom to think about what they want to achieve in life.”
Kimia hopes to inspire others, particularly young Belgians, to dedicate themselves to social change. “I would like to raise people’s awareness of their influence on society,” she says. “Students in particular, need to be made aware of all the opportunities out there. Involve them, engage with them!” Many people have great potential to shape the future, Kimia believes: “I think it’s a matter of raising awareness about all the opportunities that are out there. I wish people would get more opportunities like the one I had with BFTF.”“People need to cease the moment, and grab a hold of opportunities.”