Nadira Sarah Salsabila, or who is more familiar by the name Sarah, is a student from batch 2017 that is keen on two different activities; Reading fiction and volunteering in the humanitarian fields.
Reading is an act of solace and for Sarah, the budding interest towards the activity started when she was as young as nine. Having to deal with the nervousness that comes with having to deal with moving back and forth abroad, young Sarah dealt with this by paying her local library multiple visits where she would sit by the children’s section to read new, unfamiliar books or simply appreciate the drawings of the picture books she could find at her grasp.
She would also occasionally stop by at a second hand bookstore to buy books for herself and the routine simply continued, repeated as she tried to adjust with the novelty that comes with reading books and adapt to living somewhere new.
The spark to read more books continues as she grows up although at one point the interest gradually subdued, partly because it was increasingly more difficult to allocate personal time for reading. Fortunately this interest came back by the time Sarah turned fourteen. “I got curious about this one book my friend was reading. It was a 300-400 page book and from the thickness of it, I could tell it was something that I don’t usually go for”, she explained. “My friend lent me the book and oh was I glad because it brought back my love for reading fiction! It was a fantasy book and It was nice to see a world that is far different from our own. Sometimes you need that escape”. Life responsibilities may have taken some time away from reading but Sarah admitted to try to read some pages here and there when she is free.
With regards to her interest in the humanitarian fields, she initially attributed this interest to her parents’ teachings, which is to give back to other people whenever possible. This mindset eventually grows and the willingness to contribute set off particularly starting her adolescent years, following the time of her father’s pursuit for a doctorate in Australia.
When sixteen, she became interested in learning Psychology and eventually opted to take the course in year 11 and 12. A big part of this was to understand more of special needs children which in return, by the time she got to university, pushed her to take involvement that relates to this field. Participating in youth run programs also made her more aware of the importance of volunteering and the experience that she had, both here and abroad, gave her the chance to volunteer in places like bookstores, daycares and schools.
During her exchange in Singapore, she had to volunteer at an elderly care centre and it was a bit difficult initially due to language barriers, with some unable to speak in English, and having no prior knowledge on the needs and wants of each elderly. Such barriers did create some difficulties during the first few days, though Sarah realised that other forms of communication exist and body gestures also proved to be an effective strategy to communicate. The most important aspects when volunteering anywhere was the need for empathy and patience and it is in these experiences that Sarah found her place. It helps her widen her social circle and makes her learn to appreciate even the smallest things in life.
Sarah has a goal of continuing her studies in Psychology but someday she would also like to take courses to refine her writing skill. “Creative writing is difficult”, she admitted. “All of the authors I’ve read were always able to craft their words so vividly that it makes everything described so tangible. Considering my attempt to write and the amount of writer’s block I suffered, I have a long way to go”, she laughed. She also confirmed that she would like to be involved in more social activities, if the opportunity arises.