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by M

I sat down at my desk just a little over a year ago trying to write my personal statement. The first sentence is the most important, was the main advice I'd gathered from my extensive research. I am known for sucking at introductions, so a few attempts later with a bit of frustration I stopped to think about it. I said to myself: stop trying to impress them, just be honest and authentic. These were my first few sentences:


On August 6th 2015, a Facebook post raised 150.000£ and filled four warehouses with item donations almost overnight. That post changed thousands of lives at the Calais Refugee Camp. I stumbled upon this information earlier this year, when my worry about the ongoing refugee crises spiked. From that moment on, I realized how much of a powerful tool the media are in social awareness, and ultimately social change.


And just like that I had a catchy first sentence and an engaging introduction, because I was writing from my heart. It was no news for anyone when I chose media, but it might've been a little bit of news for myself. Because suddenly I had a reason, a purpose that was pulling me this way. And then I put on my tough coat and my resilience boots and packed my bags and came to London. But it's been almost a year and a very hectic one for sure. I've told you how it felt after all these years dreaming and hoping to be here, finally being able to take a deep breathe (although still panting), and you find youself asking now what? Eventually you've settled down and got used to it and somehow you feel a bit lost because you're not quite sure where to turn to.


When I saw Jack's post on instagram I reminded myself this is what it's like to be living in London - where things happen, where everything happens. It's about swaying on swingsets with Jane at Tate Modern, watching the sun set over the skyscrapers at Primrose Hill, walking around Camden Market with Katya, eating chips in Covent Garden with Vendy and somedays it's about doing it all by yourself. Like booking tickets to this exhibition, and it just so happens to be a photography (which I love) exhibition about the refugee crisis (which I'm so passionate about) by Jack Harries (one of the people who has inspired me the most growing up and that continues to inspire me everyday). 


So the whole day I was wondering about it, like a song playing at an annoying volume in the back of my mind. I kept asking myself what will you say when really what is there not to be said? What words to prioritise? And so I went and there were butterflies in my stomach the whole time. But then I saw those photos and I instantly felt the way it always makes me feel: a lump in my throat, tears in my eyes, and I just want to YELL at the world and PUNCH it in the face. Shake the West by the shoulders and scream THERE IS ALL THIS BLOOD IN YOUR HANDS WHEN WILL YOU NOTICE. But really you just stand there in awe. Looking at these pictures of these people that are people just like us and whom are paying the price of crimes they not only didn't commit, but were victim to. Hoping no one will notice your watery eyes and the shake in your hands. And you feel useless. And then it occurred to me that they must've felt it too. Alice and Jack spent months collecting these pictures from various spots across Europe, witnessing the suffering and despair first hand. Just then I knew what to say. I asked how do I take all this ANGER and RAGE and put into something effective and how to I find a way to make that voice be heard. And Jack told me (cannot believe my own words) that I need to let that passion take me to the places so that I can see and speak up and that the world is at the tip of my fingers with social media if only we have the guts. That I don't need anyone else but me to just go and start. Just like it only took Jaz one day trip to Calais and one Facebook post to change and save lives in the Jungle refugee camp. At this point I was ready to leave the building and sit on a bench crying because what is life and then I literally run into Jaz walking in and I was like WHAT IT IS LIFE HONESTLY.


Everything came full circle today. Like, 4 years ago I was trapped in a town that I hated, with dreams too big to be fulfiled there. 2 years ago I was utterly lost and had no idea what to do with my life. And now I'm here, following those dreams in a city that opens doors instead of shutting them, carving my own path in a direction that is still somewhat unknown but is definitely heading somewhere. I am here for all of these reasons: the kid who watched JacksGap on school breaks with friends, the kid who played with MovieMaker when she was bored, the kid who asked for a DSLR on her 15th birthday, the kid who decided to do media for social change. All of these brought me here. I brought me here. And if I keep listening to that kid, who knows where it'll take me.


I am so grateful.