Coming to Canada with my family in 1998 from Kuwait was a monumental moment in my life. It wasn’t just about starting over as refugees in search of a new home. It was also about finding a renewed sense of community, a place where we could truly belong. The concept of belonging in a community has been deeply ingrained in me since those formative years. I’ve been on a quest for it, and now my work is driven by the desire to create and find community—a space where we all feel like we belong. You see, it was incredibly challenging for us when the place we once called home no longer wanted us there.
The Boys and Girls Club was one of those spaces that first granted me that sense of community. From playing sports to participating in my first leadership program at the age of 11, I grew up with a strong desire to give back to the place that helped me form friendships, build connections, and develop the confidence that has shaped my passion for leadership to this day.
That was where I learned a crucial lesson: creating community is at the core of leadership. Through my experiences at the Boys and Girls Club, community centers, camps, and sports teams, I discovered that community arises when we intentionally contribute to something greater than ourselves. It’s through this level of contribution that we find our own sense of belonging within the community.
Most of the time, we actively seek out community. We want to find it, join it, and be a part of something meaningful. There’s a Western notion of searching for ourselves, our souls, and finding our identity. However, in leadership, it’s not about finding ourselves; it’s about creating ourselves. Similarly, we don’t find community; we create it.
That lesson has made all the difference in my life. It’s the reason why I am dedicated to my work and passionate about inspiring others to create their own communities and become leaders within them. Leadership is often seen as something grand, larger than life—an act reserved for figures like Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malala Yousafzai, or Greta Thunberg. I would never think to apply the label of “leader” to someone like myself or my friends.
But over the past nine years, I’ve worked with schools and organizations to redefine leadership. It’s not about identity; it’s about taking action. Leadership is about small actions that create a sense of community and bring people together. Just as it helped me feel at home all those years ago, I want others to feel empowered to create that same experience of belonging and community. It is from those remarkable places that even greater things can emerge.
Together, we can create communities that inspire and transform, and I’m here to guide you on that journey.
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