Originally from Yemen

Cultural Mediator in Italy

Sophia's Story

I am a free woman. I want to be Sophia; this is how I was born and who I want to be when I die. Sadly, this is also the reason why I had to leave my city in Yemen, where I was employed, drove my own car and was a divorcee. Life in Yemen is not easy for an independent woman, and it became unbearable when I started to receive death threats.

I arrived in Italy in 2013, and as soon as I was granted with an international protection status, I started to look into validating my degree. An officer working at the Center for Lifelong Learning (C.A.P) at the University of Bari, supported me throughout this process. Once my degree was validated, I could also apply for a scholarship financed by the Italian Ministry of Interior to continue my studies in intercultural communication. 

"Language is empowering because, just like a bridge, it connects you with the 'other'."

I am so happy here in Italy, this is a beautiful part of my life and this is now my home. Learning the language allowed me to feel part of Italian society, and it surely is the first step that all migrants should undertake in their new country. Language is empowering because, just like a bridge, it connects you with other people. Language makes you more independent, and it allows you to access the culture. You can actually understand your own rights, and also duties, in your host country.

Even if I may eventually go back to Yemen, I think that, as refugees, we should leave a positive mark on our host country. Women especially should not be intimidated or afraid to make choices and pursue their goals in life, although they may feel that the whole world is against them. This is why I encourage female refugees to be supportive of other girls and women, regardless of their backgrounds.

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