Amreen Valli, Class of 2015 from AKA Mombasa, is the social media and alumni engagement lead for AKA Alumni Network.


As an alumna of the Aga Khan Academy (AKA) Mombasa, how did you see pluralism play a part in your Academy experience?

I was born and raised in Mombasa, Kenya. It’s a very small town, and as I got older, I realised that the life I lived in Mombasa was a very sheltered one. For the longest time, I didn’t think to look and engage with the people around me. This changed when I joined AKA Mombasa in 2003, and in particular when the residential programme launched when I was in Grade 6. The programme welcomed people from different parts of Africa and Asia, and offered scholarships to excellent individuals from varying socioeconomic backgrounds. This broadened my horizons and introduced me to lifelong friends whom I never would have met otherwise. Having met people from different parts of Kenya, Pakistan and Tajikistan, I started to appreciate different cultures and learned that everyone has their own value.

A key takeaway from my time at the Academy is that being different is a strength rather than a weakness and I have carried this lesson with me through my higher education and into my career. The students, teachers and faculty promoted a culture of pluralism in a way that helped me appreciate the impact we can have in our communities, however small, by simply exchanging different ideas, viewpoints and opinions.