BA-International Studies, Lake Forest College

Photo of Maja Torlo

I am a child of the post-Yugoslavian era of the Balkans. At the age of three, my parents divorced and I was raised by a single mother. However, I never suffered from it. She gave me a childhood full of warmth, happiness and kindness. My mother’s commitment to my sisters and me had awoken a desire to follow in her footsteps towards higher education. Hence, I enrolled in a ‘preparatory’ school for students that wanted to pursue a university degree. After two years, I became enchanted with the mission of the United World College in Mostar, which I attended until my graduation. Afterwards, I was able to enroll into Lake Forest College with a full scholarship. I realized I wished to attend a study abroad program in the Middle East because I wanted the opportunity to experience the occurrences of the area as they unfolded. As soon as I met my politics professor, Dr. Omar Rafai, I became enchanted with his class, the material we were learning and his brilliance in transferring that knowledge. Moreover, as a Palestinian-Jordanian, his ability to remain just and composed, despite everything that had happened to his country, simply fascinated and inspired me. His close mentorship and support allowed me to contain my emotions better and become a more composed critical thinker, as my ideas of justice sometimes made me too committed to supporting my own case without regarding why others have placed themselves in opposition of that view.