We asked Dima, our alumna, for permission to share her graduation speech, and she has allowed us to reproduce it here.
Originally from Syria, Dima’s previous work experience includes the role of Legal Advisor to the Syrian Professional Network. She recently earned her Master’s degree in Public International Law at Utrecht University and is currently undergoing an internship at Women Win. Above all, we know Dima as someone who doesn’t quit when the road gets tough.
I am Dima Kadri and I can’t express how happy I am to be here today: first, to meet you all in person, and second, to celebrate our amazing achievement. I thought a lot about what I should say today, and with every attempt, I got the feeling that I was still unable to express what I wanted to say. So, I decided to tell a story. I just hope it can deliver what is inside – here and here. So, in August 2017, I came to the Netherlands. That day, I officially became a refugee. I started this journey from an azc and I thought the Netherlands would be a resting stop after a year of choice and fear.
But in the Netherlands, I discovered a totally new struggle – starting from not recognising my diploma and discovering that my previous education was not really important here to the repeating concept that I was not enough, that I needed to perfect the language, I needed to find a job to match certain requirements to be a good citizen. I was overwhelmed. But because I am stubborn and love challenges, I started studying international law the year after, in September 2018. I was on a marathon. I was dealing with the feeling that I was always doing more to be accepted, the feeling that I was still lacking a lot of information about everything, the feeling that I was not taken seriously just because I was from a different country and I was forced to become a refugee.
In May, I was finishing my Bachelor’s degree and feeling totally lost and worried about what my next steps could be. That was the time when I found a post on Facebook about She Matters and Nike. To be honest, in the beginning, I did not know what to expect. In the past, I participated in many initiatives which were working with newcomers and they did not really do a lot because they did not really get what we really needed. I started with a phone call with Christina and, as you can imagine, I decided I wanted to be a part of this programme with this inspiring person.
And after the introduction day and meeting the rest of the Nike team, I got more confident that this journey would be interesting.
And if I want to start talking about the experience I have to start with the Big Why sessions and Tania. To be honest, as a very practical person, I doubted, in the beginning, the relevance of these sessions and I remember telling Mariette, my mentor, that I was here to find a job, to do something, not to dream or talk about my feelings. But through the journey, with the support and the safe and open atmosphere that was created by Tania and other girls, I started to be more open, let myself enjoy these sessions, and opened my heart to be vulnerable. And maybe you think: ‘Why could this be important or even relevant?’ Let me tell you that a lot of female newcomers need this, need to have a space to think about themselves as a priority, to restore their confidence that has been shaken and stirred. With every session, I discovered something new about myself and other girls, I learnt more about my powers and capabilities and also about my boundaries and fears.
With this inner journey, we were also taking a knowledge journey with the Nike team. With each Leaders Unplugged Talk, we were able to get not only info about Nike and the business of big corporates but also an insight into personal stories that empowered and inspired us. I cannot but mention Supply Chain University with John McPhee. That was literally one of the most fun classes that I have ever attended.
However, because in each journey there are some challenges, I have to say that the Python and the tech part of the programme were a bit challenging for me. But, with the support of Christina and other girls and of course the tech sessions, we were all able to pass the course and pave our way to the coding world.
With all the knowledge and skills that we were able to obtain through the programme, the main goal – to prepare us for the work placement – was still our focus. With personal branding, preparing our CVs, and practicing interviews, all of us are ready to face the world fully prepared.
I have to say that one of the main reasons that make this programme an amazing experience is the wholehearted presence of my mentor, Mariette. She is the one that I bother with all my worries and concerns every week and also the first person I texted after my first day in my internship, and she is the first person that asked me about my first day in my Master’s. I will be always grateful for all your efforts and support.
And finally, I want to thank all of the people who have made this programme a reality, a programme that understands that we are full of potential and talent, that makes us believe in ourselves again and have hope for the future. I hope this amazing initiative goes on and more female newcomers have the chance that I had.
Thank you very much.
Thank you to Dima for her powerful words and her testament to our work at She Matters.
We’ve developed a unique two-tiered Employment Journey that starts with She Matters Foundation’s career readiness programme (our Lotus Flower Programme) and ends with She Matters B.V.’s recruitment services. The final destination: Employment. If your company is searching for talent with a unique set of skills, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s create a win-win situation for both female newcomers and businesses!
Photo credit: Fadi Haddad Photography