Thailand: Meet Ayesha, a scholar from Urban Education Project (UEP)

31 January 2022

Related: Education, Thailand
Ratjai Adjayutpokin (Urban Education Project Director), Ayesha and Fr. Kevin Cullen, S.J. (Country Director, JRS Thailand) at JRS Thailand office.

Meet Ayesha, a scholar from Urban Education Project, JRS Thailand.

Ayesha fled from persecution in Pakistan and came to Thailand in 2013. At first, she thought she would sink into a state of depression due to the fact that Refugees are at risk of being arrested in Bangkok, and life is lived in the same small room every day. But her resilient mindset is something else. Ayesha is rising stronger. She decided to take a bold step and chase her academic path. Now she’s pursuing a Master’s degree in International Relations at Thammasat University. Ayesha is one of the amazing students who achieves a scholarship from JRS Thailand.

And here are her secrets.

1. Don’t be afraid to try new things.

“If I tried and failed, it’s okay. But if I never try, I’ll just be living with regret and it’s more painful,” said Ayesha about her first step to her dream. She was looking on the internet to find which University offers an English Program. Back in Pakistan, she never studied a full course in English. The First Semester was hard for her as she understood only a few things in class. She had to work harder outside the class. Ayesha invested a lot of time in extracurricular events and joined an international students club. Then she had the chance to connect with people and learn from them. She never gives up and always finds a way to learn new things.

2. Surround yourself with good people.

She decided to leave the community where she first arrived because the neighborhood was not the right energy for her. “When you feel you don’t belong there, you leave.” Ayesha always knows what she wants and she goes for it. She realized that she could not be in this group of people who spoke negative things and lived in fear all the time. That decision sent her on her way to find the University and to live a different life. “The people in your circle matter a lot.” She always meets new people and befriends other students in the University.

3. Positivity is the key.

As a refugee woman, life is challenging enough for Ayesha. She found out that the more she thinks negatively about her life, the more it affects her personality. “If you’re just living in your past and put your past into your present and think that you’re the victim of the world and do nothing about that, you had just proved to yourself that way.” She started to treat herself in the way she wanted others to treat her. She has self-respect, confidence, and dignity. Luck wasn’t the key to getting her into the University, but rather the positivity in finding hope and believing in every difficulty she confronted.

4. Find your passion.

When you feel trapped in one place, it’s hard to find passion. Ayesha suggested that first, you should get yourself out of your comfort zone. And when you have a passion to do something, there is nothing that can stop you from doing that. She received admission to the University even when her English skills were limited. But with the passion inside her, she knew she needed to learn English very fast and at any cost. There were times when she was tired and fatigued, but the only passion got her over this to achieve what she wanted. “You have to do and never give up,” said Ayesha.

Refugee people are likely to be given the second chance with their lives. I was given the opportunity to study in the University and start my life over.

She couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the announcement of a scholarship program for higher education from JRS Thailand. No one ever talks about support in higher education for asylum seekers and refugees. JRS has played an important role in Ayesha’s Master’s degree program.

As a minority and as a woman, her opportunities in education were limited. In general, her culture does not support women to go to University or receive Higher Education. The belief that money is earned from only men is fundamentally strong in the culture. Women have to sit and wait at home for their livelihoods. Sometimes, they suffer from domestic violence and are not able to leave it as they will have no financial support. With education, they grow in independence and can make good decisions for their own life. With education, people can express themselves, refine and define themselves in a better way in the world. Ayesha hopes that all refugee women are able to pursue their academic life with maximum opportunities.

Ratjai Adjayutpokin (Urban Education Project Director) and Ayesha signing the scholarship ToR.