Liena EL-lahawi is a second year International Relations BA student at King’s College London.
As a young Sudanese woman, witnessing her nation’s revolution unfold from miles away only brought her closer to her origins. During her first year, Liena gained the courage to perform a spoken-word piece dedicated to Sudan, shedding light on its past and its current situation. To her, poetry acts as a creative outlet which allows her to express her thoughts in her own unique manner. Her piece was so greatly received that she was asked to perform at numerous upcoming events, to which she proudly agreed to.
Liena’s patriotism encouraged her to take on the role of President of the KCL Sudanese Society this year, where the society’s events will act as a social space for Sudanese youth to connect. More significantly, however, is the privilege we have as the Sudanese diaspora to be able to organise fundraising events with the aim of raising funds to be sent to areas in need back home. As an International Relations student, Liena has a vision to advocate for more political discussions among the society and increase youth attentiveness to Sudan’s current political climate. Although it is not a particularly large society, she is more than honoured to be able to represent her country amongst the student body and unite with other university Sudanese societies across the UK, to have the maximum positive impact.
Her passion for writing combined with her curiosity for African affairs allowed Liena to take on the position of Sub-Saharan Africa Editor for the KCL International Relations Today blog, whereby which she has the liberty to write and publish articles relating to this region. As an underrepresented continent, she believes her enthusiasm renders her fit for the role and aspires to strengthen general interest for Africa. This has led her to co-found KCL African Union Society this year, which entails a variety of events such as MUN debates, fundraising projects and talks from Africa specialists. She has high hopes for this innovative society and fundamentally hopes it can increase attentiveness to African affairs across the entire student body.
Outside the university bubble, Liena volunteers with refugees on a regular basis, integrating them into their new society by teaching basic English skills and aiding with paperwork. Coming from a country where refugees are highly prevalent, she considers this role the least she can do to give back and intends to have an enduring positive impact on their lives.
Advice to your younger self:
Do not let the judgement of others prevent you from pursuing what you’re interested in. You only have yourself to please in the end.