By Sylwia Korsak

Asha means “hope”. We feel truly privileged to have hosted Asha at our home, here in UK. Since her first day in Oxfordshire, Asha lived up to the meaning of her name: she was open, excited, happy, taking everything in and responding with a smile. She was really resilient to challenges of the new country; weather, food and the ways people operate. She managed all this one-step at a time and grew immensely in the process.

Asha came to improve her English skills. She took private lessons with our friend, Bethany, and visited our local school, the Butler Centre. We combined studies with travel, meeting new people to put all her language skills in practice. Within those four weeks, Asha visited Oxford (many times), London (twice), Blenheim Palace and other local tourist attractions, Leicester (“THE” city of UK skateboarding) and Brighton. She shared the room with our son and practiced English during their evening pillow-fights.

She was really lovely and respectful towards all the new friends in the UK. Starting from our family friends, through many community leaders in our town, to all the young people and small children – she was kind and caring. Her English improved a lot. She gradually opened up, spoke up more and more, and I personally think she also grew in her confidence a lot. She learned from each and every experience and converted it into more grounded sense of self.

She shined as a skateboarder too. She experienced quite some skateparks: the famous London Southbank, the Old Broom Tavern in Leicester, the Oxford Wheels Project and many more local ones. It was quite flattering to see the owner of the Leicester park recognising the Janwaar Castle logo: “Oh, yes, I’ve heard about it!” In Oxford I overheard another skilled skateboarder saying to his friend: “She is much better than I was at her age!” It was heartwarming to see them both helping Asha with her first drop into this new location – somehow for us it summed up the spirit of skateboarding and her trip.

Asha – like all amazing children – needs just this one helpful stretch of a hand to get going and then she is up and running, helping others too. She is a talented young girl who appreciates what live gives her and makes the most of it. I am confident that she will go back to Janwaar Castle and inspire many more young girls and boys to do the same. She has done well already but I know that she will bring even more hope to her community.

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