Wednesday August 5, 2020
By Andre Chumko
As a teenager, former refugee Guled Mire was chased by skinheads and told by his teachers that university wasn’t a place for people like him.
Years later – an Auckland University of Technology graduate, policy advisor, community advocate and refugee ambassador – Mire has been announced as a Fulbright award winner, and will go on to study at Ivy League-listed Cornell in New York.
“I’m really stoked and pleased, but this is much bigger than just me. This is for every young person growing up in Aotearoa who was told they’d never be good enough, or university wasn’t for them – just as I was,” he said.
“It shows that anything you set your eyes to is achievable.”
Mire, who was born in Somalia and spent several years at a refugee camp in Kenya, is based in Wellington. He will begin studying a Masters of Public Administration at Cornell in September, specialising in human rights and social justice.
While Covid-19 has meant he will have to start his studies online in New Zealand, Mire has plans to move abroad as soon as he’s safely able to.
On top of his Fulbright General Graduate Award, Mire has also received a merit-based fellowship award.
Penelope Borland, executive director of Fulbright New Zealand, said grantees are not only chosen for their work and academic achievements, but for their strength of character, and ambassadorial and thought leadership qualities.
“Guled possesses all of these,” she said.
Somali-born Guled Mire spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before moving to NZ. He will begin studying at New York’s Cornell University in September.ROBERT KITCHIN/STUFF
Grantees are chosen in a highly-competitive selection process which involves a written application, and an interview with an independent panel of experts.
Candidates are then evaluated for their potential contribution to New Zealand’s development in their field of study, the betterment of Kiwi society, and mutual benefit to both New Zealand and the United States.
”Guled’s advocacy in the community and policy advice experience means he is ideally placed to make the most of investigating solutions for advancing the social wellbeing and inclusion of ethnic communities in policy discourse and development,” Borland said.
“It shows that anything you set your eyes to is achievable,” Mire says. ROBERT KITCHIN/STUFF
Associate professor Camille Nakhid, who taught Mire and did research with him at Auckland University of Technology, said he has a passion for issues of social injustice – particularly issues affecting Muslim communities, and communities of colour.
“Guled does not shy away from saying what needs to be said, even when no one wants to hear the truth of what he has to say,” Nakhid said.
“Guled knows now, more than ever, that his words and actions need to make those of us who remain firmly rooted in our racism and Islamophobia, aware of our complicity in maintaining these injustices by our silence and inaction.
“He knows it is the fire that makes people react and shakes them out of their complacency.”
Dr Camille Nakhid, who taught Mire at AUT, says Mire knows how to shake people out of complacency. BEVAN READ/STUFF