Yasmine Alwakal

Yasmine Alwakal – Our Lady of Mercy Parramatta School Captain
Yasmine Alwakal – Our Lady of Mercy Parramatta School Captain

Our Lady of Mercy Parramatta School Captain
17 years of age
Future journalist

Yasmine has a father who was a Palestinian refugee. His experience has shaped how she sees the world and the changes she would like to see. She’s articulate, a definite communicator and a future journalist.

IN SHORT

  • Daughter of a Palestinian refugee
  • She’s passionate about refugee treatment
  • She’s also concerned about young women’s self-confidence, social media and the environment

FROM YASMIN

I would ask our Prime Minister about the words in our national Anthem – they don't match up with the way we treat immigrants and refugees. Our National Anthem says, "For those who've come across the seas, we've boundless plains to share", yet our treatment of refugees is anything but that. My dad is a refugee who didn't have a country or a citizenship for so much of his life.

He's very passionate about ensuring there are equal opportunities for everyone and all people are worthy. We shouldn't be locking people up in cages or refusing them entry into our country. So I think he agrees that we shouldn't be out there singing, saying one thing, but acting in a completely different way.

My dad really understands the value of education. He's very proud that not only do I have all of these resources and opportunities, but I also get to work on them and help other people. He's told me so many stories, so I understand how privileged I am and that not all the people have these opportunities and that's really helped me.

Some of the biggest challenges for young girls in the current age is their acceptance and confidence, especially in school.

We've been nurtured from a young age to be perfectionists and often think, "don't speak up if you're not going to be saying the right thing." But it's okay to make mistakes, we're not always going to be perfect. And especially within my own school, we promote that, just stepping up, having the courage to be able to speak out.

Social media is great because it enhances communication, but I often think behind that screen you kind of have that barrier where you feel the ability to speak out and that's different in real life. So understanding the fact that it's okay to be able to say something behind a screen, but we also need to be able to say it face to face.

Often with social media, you see people posting their best photo that they've taken or they're editing it. But it's not the real representation of ourselves, but people feel that need to be perfect when that's not something anyone can really strive for.

Our leaders also need to focus on our environmental crisis. All of the actions we make, have consequences. And the fact that us deciding to drive in a car somewhere or use a certain product has consequences, but the consequences of our leaders are those that will be most prominent in our future. So if they focus on the future rather than the now, and what's going to please the majority, then that will ensure that we have a good future.

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