Dear Friends, Family & Community of Givers,
Alifiyah (Alf) here and this is my story:
In January 2017, I applied for a joint Master’s Degree program in Media Arts and Cultures based in Europe (www.mediaartscultures.eu/mediaac/). The Media Arts Cultures program is spread over two years and structured so each semester is in a different city. It is an interdisciplinary program, and gives the opportunity for many developing countries to participate with a full scholarship.
1st Semester: Danube University Krems, Austria (coordinator)
2nd Semester: Aalborg University, Denmark
3rd Semester University of Lodz, Poland OR
City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
4th Semester: Based on Thesis Topic
I found out in April 2017 that I got in as one of the 20 chosen, to a program with over 350 applicants from all over the world. I also made it to the reserve list for a full scholarship but didn’t make it in the final stage, although I was encouraged to participate as a self-funded student. This was a huge blow for me. I was unable to meet the financial requirements and my family didn’t have the means to support me.
Tuition fees for two years: 15,000 Euros
Living Expenses: 30.080 - 39.750 Euros
(Based on attached* breakdown of fees and costs shared by the consortium partners)
A dear colleague who believed in me talked me through this difficult time and suggested that I start fundraising and applying for external scholarships and grants in my hometown Karachi, Pakistan. With her encouragement, I did some extensive research to find out about what the possibilities were. You see, in Pakistan there are not many funding bodies and the few that are active, mostly don’t give money for studying abroad or in the field of arts and culture.
I calculated how much I would need to sustain on a shoestring for a year in the program (approx. 20,000 Euros equivalent to approx 26 Lakhs PKR at that time) and with this goal I moved forward with a list of names of Trusts, Foundations, Organizations, Individuals and Companies. I sent my application everywhere and made visits, hoping something would work out.
By June, I had many more commitments and had raised more than half of my target with many small and big contributions. It was absolutely surreal. I was completely overwhelmed by all the support and the generosity of friends and strangers. Also my presupposition that people don't give money for education in Pakistan was wrong. Eventually, I was able to cover my target (for one year) to go pursue my dream.
Now I am a year into the program, and still working very hard to see my way through the end to finish this Master’s Degree. The experiences that have come my way have enabled me academically and professionally in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. Not only I am learning new things in an emerging arts field and digital culture heritage, I have met 18 wonderful people from different parts of the world, my classmates who I learn from every day. They are integral supporters of my journey, and are so actively involved in helping me however they can. I hope their wonderful video contributions shows you a glimpse of this incredible inclusive group that is the joy in my life.
Having said that, it is also an extremely crucial period for me. The funds that have sustained me will run out very soon and to continue forward in my final year I need to raise (14,900 Euros).
Through this wonderful platform, I hope that I can share and spread my story widely and that I am able to raise (7500 Euros) which is the urgent need right now to pay my fees to enroll in the final year of this program.
And so with this, I am reaching out to the community to help me.
I hope that my story shows that I value education, culture and creativity and I am one of the many young women in Pakistan who are struggling to achieve their dreams despite all odds. I have come really far and to finish this Master is more than just a degree. I am responsible to the people who have financially enabled my journey. I am responsible to myself and to the people who continue to support me and I am responsible to where I come from because that is what I represent.
Thank you so much for taking out the time to ready my story. I would be truly grateful for any contribution, big or small that you can make towards my education. Please know that I will always remember your generosity and I hope that I can also give back in the same way when I have the means.