Tuesday October 31, 2017

Flyers Embracing Global Experiences: Majd Shisha

Majd Shisha embodies the spirit of international education and exchange in her everyday experiences while a student at the University of Dayton (UD). As an International Business Management major, with a concentration in Global Markets, she looks forward to where her journey in cross-cultural engagement will take her.

What has influenced or shaped your passion for international education and exchange?

Personally, being an international student myself, I understand how special and difficult it can be to be different from the majority of the group. One of the examples that inspires me is when international students engage in their first conversations with people from the United States. Most people usually talk about “where do you live on campus,” or topics that aren’t always as common, like sports; but coming from a different country, we don’t always have those things to share. We would ask about your family name, to know which part of the country you are from, or listen for which accent you have. Being able to engage with each other cross-culturally takes courage, and seeing that really inspires me to do it whenever I can.  

In your opinion, what are some benefits to international education and exchange?

Besides learning about other people and other cultures, you really learn mostly about yourself. You don’t realize how little you know about yourself until you need to explain more about what you think is normal, or common; like when you truly have to represent yourself. I think it’s really interesting that each of us have distinct things that are most “normal” to us. The more aware of yourself you become, the more you start having different perspectives on your own self, on your own behavior.

What is one aspect or memory of home that you still embrace today?

In my culture, the idea of gender differences is emphasized and valued, because there is a specific role and image of a woman and a man; it helps define what is expected of each of them. In so many cases you can think of that as something negative; maybe putting men before women, or women above men. But in a healthy, respectful society, that is something really precious. It gives meaning to both people in different ways. I do appreciate a lot of Western countries and how much equality there is between genders. But I still appreciate the cultural aspect of how each is perceived and treated differently; I still embrace that today.

Where are some places you have traveled that have expanded your perspective of yourself and the world?

I went on a mission trips through UD to New Orleans, and the purpose was to help rebuild houses from Hurricane Katrina. We stayed at a volunteer’s house, and for the first time in my whole life, I was included in a prayer that was not from my religion. I was very welcomed, and nobody tried to over explain anything to me, but it definitely expanded my idea of what a prayer is, and how it can be done differently. It helped me see what the real the purpose of a prayer is; you don’t have to be of the same religion, to do the same prayer.  I even came back doing my own prayers differently, and realized it’s more about having that connection and energy inside of you.

Who is someone that has inspired you or you believe to be a role model for global leadership? Why?

My high school principle, really inspired me. I attend an international school in Columbus, Ohio where we had people from over 48 different countries. In our morning assemblies, he always ended them by saying “know where you come from, be who you are, and find the strength to change the world.” He would share that knowing where you come from builds who you are, but does not define or limit you to change who you want to be. Each part of the sentence is important, because it doesn’t limit the other parts, but helps it be stronger.

If you had to pick a life motto or quote, what would it be? Why?

“If you care, you’ll find a way, and if you don’t, you’ll find an excuse”. It’s very meaningful in most situations, because if you really want it and you have a passion for it, you can find a way. As an international student, there are so many ways to find an excuse. But it’s your choice to either just sit back and not do what you want, or there’s a reason to keep on trying and growing.

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