Find Your Passion: International Ambassador
By Judah Martin
February 12, 2014
Engineering student Lubna Alansari spreads a cultural awareness message (Jeff Hanson).
Lubna Alansari has enjoyed playing the role of ambassador since establishing a Model United Nations club in her high school. Perhaps that’s why she took on the real-life role at The University of Alabama.
“I had people come up to me and say, ‘I might be wrong, but this is what I know; tell me if I’m right or wrong,’” recalls the UA junior who is majoring in chemical engineering. “So, they’re always willing to hear; they’re not just set on a certain mind-set.”
Alansari directly addressed those discrepancies after a few professors invited her to speak about Saudi-Arabian culture to their classes. She felt a particular need to address misconceptions about Saudi women.
“[People] look at me and they’re like, ‘You’re dressed normally; why is that?’ and I’m like, ‘this is how everyone dresses back home,’” Alansari says. “I would say it’s more of a personal belief; people do it for a lot of different reasons, and people do it in different degrees.
“I feel like I’m able to connect to a lot of people here, and I feel that they feel the same way when they’re talking to me, even though we come from completely different backgrounds,” she says.
Alansari works with middle and high-school students in Alabama, assisting them in establishing Model UN clubs (Jeff Hanson).
Alansari serves as vice president of the Alabama International Relations Club. It was there she became involved with Alabama Model United Nations, or ALMUN.
She worked closely with the Black Belt Development Initiative, going into middle schools and high schools to help them establish Model UN clubs. Her experience starting both a Model UN and a robotics club in her own high school has aided her success with the program in the Black Belt and helped her choose major.
“That’s what got me thinking about engineering in the first place,” Alansari says of establishing the robotics team. “If I sit down, I know I can solve it, and you always get the result at the end.”
After establishing the clubs in Alabama’s Black-Belt schools, she and other Initiative volunteers returned to teach the students fundraising and promotion strategies.
“It’s extremely rewarding whenever you walk into a committee during ALMUN, and you see all these students applying everything that you’ve taught them,” Alansari says. “So they’re raising their placards, they’re making amendments; they’re debating with other people.”
Another project close to her heart is KIVA, a microlending foundation for businesses in developing nations.
A chemical engineering major, Alansari says her American classmates have been open to learning about her native culture (Jeff Hanson).
“A lot of these businesses have been farms, have been little stores, have been basket making, things that people in that community need, and that will help them start that business and help them start making a living,” Alansari says.
Her efforts to unify have not gone unnoticed.
She described feeling baffled when Dr. Beverly Hawk, former director of the Crossroads Community Center, sent her an email requesting a résumé to nominate her for an award.
A few weeks later, Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president for community affairs, informed her of her selection as recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Realizing the Dream 2013 Horizon Award. It was awarded at UA’s annual concert ceremony honoring King’s legacy.
“I just never thought anything of the work I’ve been doing; it’s just something that I’ve always done, something that I’ve always been passionate about,” she says.
Receiving the award is motivation to continue her social work, no matter where life takes her, she says.
“I’m very grateful to have professors at the University like Dr. Hawk who acknowledge students that are trying to make a change. Receiving this award means that someone has been listening, and I haven’t just been speaking in vain.”
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Judah Martin is a journalism major at The University of Alabama. He is from Foley and serves as a student writer for the College of Engineering.
This story is part of the Find Your Passion feature section of the UA home page. For more stories, please visit Find Your Passion or Crimson Spotlight. To learn more about how you can find your passion at The University of Alabama, please visit UA Undergraduate Admissions.