Student blog by Mohamed Sabir
The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) has had a great impact on my life. In Iraq, we have always struggled for better leaders, but in terms of followers we have had more than enough. AUIS is here to create a new future for Iraq with leaders who believe in freedom, justice, and democracy.
Before joining AUIS, I found difficulty in developing my goals, and I went through a period in my life in which I questioned everything. I had trouble finding meaning in my life and questioned the value of education. This as I enrolled in university to study architectural engineering. After attending classes for a couple of months, I decided to leave to attend AUIS. Everyone around me thought I was crazy for leaving a “prestigious college” to become a student at AUIS. For me, however, it offered a life with purpose. Engineering to me was money, position, name and fame, but I did not find any meaning in those things, so, I began my journey to find meaning in life.
At AUIS, I began taking classes in the Academic Preparatory Program (APP). My English vocabulary was terrible, but, I quickly found my way and after several weeks of hard work, one of my teachers offered me a chance to move into a higher level because of my hard work. This quick success happened because I had good teachers and I spoke in English almost all the time.
My undergraduate studies were a period of exploration in my life. In addition to studying the arts, history, and math, I became involved in student activities, I became a research assistant for several professors at AUIS, and also took on several internships. I was honored to be elected the International Studies senator and vice president of the first Student Association in 2013. I am now the president of the Student Association, which has done some remarkable work, but we face the same struggles as any new institution. I have benefited a lot from what I have been taught at AUIS, especially my class about politics and government, which taught me how to work with different ethnic groups and with people with different interests, something we face every day in the Student Association. I also joined a group friends and established a newspaper that has no ideology, but brings different perspectives to the reader.
Primarily because of these two contributions, this summer I was given the chance to participate in the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP). IYLEP opened my eyes and it also made me more open-minded. Before I was reading about political rights and freedom, but IYLEP gave me a chance to travel to the United States and experience first-hand these political rights and civil liberties.
What I discovered was that leadership does not mean ruling people or people serving you, but rather it means as a leader, you serve the people you are leading. As I developed new skills, I realized that I was actually taught the meaning of leadership by my father, who has always been a role model to me. And, I also realized that good leadership does not exist without love, and this I was taught by my loving mother.
All of this, however, could not have turned me into a leader without AUIS. AUIS is what gave me purpose, along with the education and the opportunity to serve my community. From here, the journey of my life continues as I continue to add more meaning to my life and to others. Mine is an unfinished story -for now. I do not want to do things for money or fame, but I want to do them so that I share what I was taught at AUIS: to be a leader who brings freedom, justice and democracy to our society.