After graduating from the Bachelor of Arts in 2019, Iman Salim Ali Farrar received the Boulton Groom Scholarship and Eleanor Sophia Wood Postgraduate Research Travelling Scholarship to complete her MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford. Through her studies, she hopes to expand her vision for social justice to empower women and the youth globally.
“The scholarships are a lifeline for my academic pursuits,” said Iman. “They changed the tide in the face of challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s amazing to have the opportunity to learn with professors who are some of the leading experts in their fields."
The University of Sydney Travelling Scholarships support graduates with strong academic merit in their overseas studies. As an undergraduate student Iman received three awards for her leadership qualities and academic excellence, including the PD Jack Prize in recognition of her outstanding performance in Arabic Language and Cultures.
“The PD Jack Prize was the start to so much of my University of Sydney experience and gave me a confidence boost to pursue the MPhil at Oxford. I had a vision for myself and the prize enabled me to actualise it.”
As a Bachelor of Arts student, Iman actively sought to better the lives of women and young people by serving the local and international community.
In the first year of her degree she started KindNecessities, a charity for refugee women which challenged cultural taboos around female hygiene through education and advocacy for cultural awareness of women’s circumstances. Iman also served as Vice-President with the Student Representative Council in 2018. In 2019, she joined the non-profit Project Dastaan to help reconnect refugees of the 1947 Partition of India, Pakistan and present-day Bangladesh to their ancestral homes through VR technology.
Studying with the Department of Arabic Language and Cultures helped me immensely in my non-profit work – not just in understanding the language and connecting with people and their stories, but also the political, religious and personal impact of ongoing issues in the Arab world.
Having lived in Syria and Jordan as a child, Iman recognised the importance of education in creating impact for good. Studying Arabic Language and Cultures and Government and International Relations was her natural first choice for multifaceted reasons.
“I’d been mistaken as an Arab for almost my whole life due to post-9/11 stereotyping, and it seemed only fitting to take ownership of the situation by educating myself, my family members and those around me,” Iman shared. “As far as childhood memories go, mine are accurate to call exciting, adventurous and a foodie’s dream. Flash forward to 2011, my childhood playground became rubble. I was in Year 8 and it was a lot to digest. That was when I decided to pursue Arabic studies and, in particular, its politics.”
“The University of Sydney was just the best place to do it.”
By learning languages, you have the gift to communicate effectively with cultural competency and understanding of situations to help others.
“Iman is a polyglot, cosmopolitan and intellectually shiny young woman. There’s no doubt about her qualifications and potential to become a leading public figure in her fields of expertise,” said Dr Lucia Sorbera, Department Chair of Arabic Language and Cultures.
“The distinctive quality of her scholarship and public engagement is an ethos that reflects the values of solidarity and social inclusion which our department and the University of Sydney uphold.”