I am the Founder/CEO of Karvan, a startup using innovative technology to improve the lives of refugees around the world. I also run a wellness & eco travel blog, where I provide content related to conscious, sustainable and plant-based living.
I am an anthropologist & Middle East Specialist at Columbia University, where I research human rights, colonialism, social psychology and international solidarity movements. I have also conducted research on conservation biology in the rainforest in Brazil. As a vegan, I bring these arguments into conversation with other ethical issues, such as those relating to animal consumption. Willing to travel internationally.
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What to Expect
Although I adjust my repertoire depending on the audience and the event planner's needs, a client can generally expect my audiences to gain new and unique insights into various social issues; to begin thinking about such issues in totally new ways, forming new connections and links between practices that they previously did not hold (e.g., human rights & diet); and to be inspired to innovative, holistic action towards peace and sustainability.
I use my academic background in conversation with my experiences living all over the world; and draw from my repository of stories collected while living in Vietnam, working in refugee camps, having grown up as a Third Culture Kid and the daughter of a displaced teenager-turned-documentary-filmmaker in the crossroads of internationalism, Dubai; and more. I tell the stories of asylum seekers whom I have had the honor of meeting, befriending, serving and working with who have been able to overcome the most grave of circumstances and find meaning in their new lives.
I employ funny anecdotes, heartwarming eye-openers and factual information all framed in critical theory to create an enriching experience for the listener that is insightful while still being easy-to-understand. I aim to bring profound philosophical theories (e.g. post-Structuralism) into the purview of audiences who might not otherwise have access to them or who haven't been exposed to them. It is my aim that if I can engage with classical philosophy in a fun, entertaining and easy-to-understand way, my audiences might then decide to explore more of the original sources.
I hope to leave a session having caused people to rethink the basic assumptions they previously held, while still feeling positive and optimistic about the future. Positivity is the name of the game, and while the subject I discuss can be heavy, I make sure to cultivate an atmosphere of non-judgment, inspiration and hope.
Soraya is a student at Columbia University and the founder and CEO of Karvan, the Refugee Work Exchange. She also manages a plant based lifestyle/travel website, (link hidden), and is active on social media promoting ethical and sustainable living. She works extensively within human rights, animal rights and environmental projects and gives lectures on the interconnection between forms of prejudice, as well as how prejudice and its power dynamics come to be formed, maintained and practiced throughout all levels of society; a theory she calls 'sectionalism'.
She has worked as a volunteer teacher in Vietnam, and had experiences working in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia; Brunswick Group in Dubai; Crimson Consulting and other companies in New Zealand and Europe.
The company she founded was awarded the Columbia Innovation Grant, and is currently in the running for (link hidden)'s Startup of the Year Award.
Influences & Inspiration
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Martin Luther King
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