Uploaded by Ehab AlQtam


Allow me to start by quoting John Quincy Adams, “If your actions inspire others to
dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” I was privileged enough
to be able to move around as a kid. I traveled across the Arabian island, Middle East, and across
the vast Asian land, Malaysia. I saw the high mountains and buildings of the rich and witnessed
the deep canyons and low spirits of the poor. I have been around, to say the least. Being able to
see both sides of the spectrum, and everything in between, allowed me to gain a good
understanding of people. Just having the ability to relate to most, is a privilege on its own. In this
essay, I will talk about the ways I was able to influence people. Whether it was by helping them
get over a fear, or guiding them through schoolwork. This way I can show why I consider myself
a leader, at least in the way I choose to define it.
One of my longest-lasting travels was to Iraq, I lived there for around 9 years. Moving
there was quite an adjustment. I had to rewire the way I speak Arabic, as the dialect there was
quite different from most. That was not as difficult, since I am used to changing dialects from
moving so often. That was not the only language barrier. Since I moved to the northern part of
Iraq, also known as Kurdistan, I had to learn the Kurdish language. At Least at the basic level.
Then came another language barrier, I was admitted to an English-only school. For the first time
in my life, I was facing quite a challenging task. Not only did I have to know how to speak
English, but I had to be very good at it. I was eight at the time, which might have made it easier
for me to do. Three months later, I had a basic understanding of the language, I could speak,
write, and read. Que Saif, sixteen years old, at the time of admission, me and him were placed in
the same group. So we can catch up on our language skills. Saif, just like me, was learning
English for the first time, however, he was much older. That made it a harder task for him to be
able to process most of what was being taught. I could not let that slide by me. I made friends
with Saif and shared my take on things. When the teacher was talking, I would think loudly.
When she said “sit down” I would say out loud, “I see her hand gesturing downwards and I see
her sitting, I assume "sit down" means we should sit down.” I did not know if it was helping him
or not, but it made me feel like I was being helpful. In the third month of the special-ed class, we
were tested. To see if we could advance to our assigned classes, or remain in the special-ed class.
I passed the test, but to me, the real accomplishment was watching Saif pass the test. Not only
that but also getting the highest grade in the class. He was assigned his new grade, and I to mine.
The world is a strange place. It works in its own flow and does not care about yours. That is
where, I believe, we come in as humans. We have to stand for each other. Making sure we can all
take a step forward. To me, I did not only help Saif pass his test, but I also showed him that
people could be kind. For no reason other than that we are human.
Let us travel back in time. Before going to Iraq I was in Egypt. The Mother of the world,
as the locals called it. During my stay there I met amazing people. From the lady that sold bread
next to our apartment building to the businessman in the penthouse nearby. The longer I stayed
in Cairo the more people I met. The duration of my stay was around four years. Now to my
point, we traveled to Egypt from Yemen to get my brother the right medical attention. He was
diagnosed with leukemia a few months prior. The main objective of our stay was to make sure he
was getting the correct treatment. My brother, Shehab, was three years old at the time. . It was
not an easy adjustment. We were told that my brother has surpassed stages one and two, and is
traversing stage three. He needed to start chemo-therapy as soon as possible. Shehab did not
understand what was going on, or what were the pipes being stuck into his body. His fear and
anxiety got into him, he started losing breath easily, and could no longer walk. Soon enough he
lost all his hair. My parents kept us away from him, so we do not get frightened. That, however,
did not scare me, I knew it was the reality of the world. I asked to see my brother many times.
My request was denied. Until one day they allowed me to go, I was over the moon. Being six
years old, I could not imagine my life without my brother. When I got into the room I noticed my
brother was looking at the ceiling. You could almost feel a physical presence of his loneliness. It
engulfed the room. As I got closer, my brother noticed my movement, so he looked towards me.
Shehab started laughing, almost hysterically, he snapped the oxygen mask off his face and
jumped running towards me. He gave me a hug I will never forget. I could feel his legs wanting
to fail him, but he kept going. I held him up. My dad brought a wheelchair and shehab sat on it.
He would not stop talking, which was a good thing, hince nobody has heard him speak in weeks.
I pushed him to think positively, showing him that the world could be fun, even at our lowest. I
bought him toys and invented new games to play. I made up stories, and made him look like the
hero. Slowly he was able to do more. Talk more, play more, and walk more. His doctor pulled
me aside one day and told me, “You know it takes a big heart, and a great sense of leadership, for
a boy your age to come in here everyday, never mentioning the obvious illness, never reminding
him of what he is going through. He feels like he is in recess from his sickness. Thank you, for
making my job easier.” At the time these words did not mean much. Yet they managed to stick
with me. As I grew older they started making sense. I realized that for one, my brother and I are
one; and for another, words could make a difference. Three years later my brother was
I do not tell stories, I cite my history, there are many more occasions where I have shown
a sense of leadership. At least as I choose to define it. What I cited today was just two of many.
One more significant than the other. However, both show me as a person. One as a classmate,
and the other as a brother. I am excited to bring this energy with me to Stony Brook. To show the
world a new way of leadership, one that does not only benefit the leader, but the ones that are
around them too.
( I understand that I have exceeded the word limit, however, I believe that every word is
important to deliver my point. I hope that is acceptable to you.)