An Unwavering Commitment to Study Abroad: Amar Helps Underrepresented Students Make Their Way to Scandinavia

Dr. Amar Rewari is the Chief of Radiation Oncology at Luminis Health in Annapolis, Maryland and is a leader in healthcare finance and payment reform for his specialty. Amar’s semester abroad at DIS in 1999 reinforced his desire to pursue a career in medicine and health policy.

Amar serves as Vice Chair of the Board for the Fund for Education Abroad, the largest provider of study abroad scholarships for students of color and financial hardship, through which he founded the A. Rewari Family Scholarship for study abroad in Denmark. Amar is Vice-Chairperson of the DIS Alumni Board.

DIS: Hi Amar! How does your time at DIS correlate with the life you’re living now? 

A: Hello! Back in 1999, I was in the Medical Practice & Policy Program at DIS, which was a very impactful experience because back home I could not get classes like that. In the U.S., the only classes I could take were in a classroom learning basic science like organic chemistry or physical chemistry. Having a class in a hospital, taught by med students, was unheard of while I was in college, and it was really a unique offering. Learning about the symptoms of an actual case in a hospital setting and then discussing how to think about the diagnoses with doctors, you just don’t get that in the U.S.

When I interviewed for med school, I wrote about my study abroad experience at DIS in my essays, and everyone I met at the interviews asked about it. They didn’t want to talk about boring subjects, instead they asked what it was like working in a hospital in Denmark, and how I experienced studying Scandinavian medicine. All of my interviews went like that, and I think that really helped me get into med school.

DIS: What was your overall experience of studying abroad?

A: Study abroad was a transformative experience in my life because it boosted my self-esteem and self-acceptance, and it made me realize that even though we come from different backgrounds we have a lot more in common than we might think.

My semester in Denmark fundamentally changed how I approach things or view things.

My semester in Denmark fundamentally changed how I approach things or view things. Even now when I talk to patients, I try to constantly think of things from many different perspectives and really just listen.

DIS: Will you tell us a bit about the A. Rewari Family Scholarship?

A: I had been active in the Danish expatriate community in Washington DC for a long time, but at one point I felt that I wanted to do more. I founded the A. Rewari Family Scholarship together with the Fund for Education Abroad, one of the largest organizations to fund study abroad. The scholarship is meant for students who are from economically disadvantaged or underrepresented minority backgrounds.

I believe that anyone who gets to study abroad will come away with moments who can really shape who they are, and I find it so exciting to be able to help students get this opportunity and help mentor them in the process.

DIS: How did you keep a connection to Denmark after returning to the U.S.?

A: Years ago, when I had first moved to Washington DC, I was in Target one day and I heard some people speaking Danish, a few aisles down. We started talking and I found out they were new interns at the Danish Embassy. I got to know them, and ended up meting a lot of other Danish expats, too. I made a lot of good friends, and actually even celebrated my birthday dinner with one of the former embassy interns in Copenhagen this past December. I always joke that I think I’m the American with the most Danish friends.

DIS: Do you have any advice for alums living far away from Scandinavian communities in the U.S.?

 A: I do think that work life balance is very important, to try to bring that aspect into your life.

I also believe you can implement the hygge vibe quite easily at home, for example by inviting people for small one-on-one gatherings and just talk. I think that having those kinds of meaningful conversations is very Scandinavian. To just really take it a step back, tone it down, and be there in the moment.

DIS: Are there any Danish ways of living that you have taken with you?

A: I have bags of licorice in my apartment. I love the Danish stuff that a lot of Americans don’t like, such as pickled herring and licorice. Also, I can’t have a party without having a bag of chips. There are just little things that I notice I have picked up over time from spending time with Danes.

I feel like oftentimes when you get a group of Americans together, they can be very loud. But with Danes it’s not so loud or in your face. It’s cozy. I have definitely picked up the cozy aspects, and I have so many candles from the big Danish department store, Magasin in my home.

In his speech, my brother said that I was clearly born in the wrong country, and that I was meant to be Danish.

A funny thing happened when my brother got married last week and I was his best man. He invited all the groomsmen to give us each a gift and a little speech. For me, he had gotten a big framed map of Europe. In his speech, my brother said that I was clearly born in the wrong country, and that I was meant to be Danish. I do feel that’s very true. 

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