What stands out is time. Going to school at the University of Minnesota learning Strategic Communication, minor in communications. I am learning how to effectively carry out my work. learning about media. the ins and outs. I have been on over 1800 media outlets in my work. I learnt along the way how to use them. yeah use them to impart message of hope and a people rising to the challenge of extremism. I learned how they speak in sound bites. learned how to create sound bites and share with them to great effect. There are red lines which I imposed on myself. media likes to stereotype and call you when an issue concerning the community is in the headlines. I refused to engage and give interviews when a member of our community does something bad. Give you an example, I had media from across the world call me when a Somali Policeman killed a white woman in Minneapolis. it is good to know your boundaries. I am not a police expert, I am not a violence expert, I am not a spokesperson for the police union, I am not a person who can claim expertise in this issue and discuss impact to community. My vision and work is based on knowledge used to counter extremism. so I refused CNN, FOX, Financial Times, Guardian and many big names to speak on this issue. it did not serve my mission or goals. They called me because I was a Somali. I work hard to impart the image and message we are Americans. this is pigeon holing an individual. this took time to understand. time afforded as a Bush Foundation Fellow. We have time to think things through and find our path thanks to the fellowship. I used to work 60-70 hours a week and had very little time to reflect cause and means that seemed like a luxury. Now I have time to think. not worry about working to pay bills. the foundation took care of that.
As a leader I have made inroads where it matters. I had time to shore up community support and get on the national stage. because of the fellowship I had time to engage with global visitors and leaders on behalf of the State Department. because of Bush foundation that engagement earned me a national title and award. I got named and was awarded as 2018 Citizen Diplomat of the Year, previous recipients include Poet Maya Angelou, Senator Fulbright, and John Richardson who started US institute of Peace. My leadership has expanded nationally getting invited to States all across America to speak on the issue of Extremism. With invitations from Denver, Colorado, Tucson Arizona, Missoula Montana. My leadership on the issues of concern is now being accepted nationally. In Washington, the State Department held a day of meet and greet for me. if I was still working these are things I would say Thanks but no thanks, no time. Bush Foundation allowed me to be there and present ourselves.
What has surprised me, is the accolades I get for being a bush foundation fellow. Did not know how much of a big deal you guys were. I use it all the time and it gets certain avenues opened up.
As a leader getting a degree, learning Knowledge that will be used to create viable means to serve and work for humanity towards progression is very important to me. I have been acing all my classes. I am on track to graduate in a years time. A little after the grants runs out. This is important to me. it serves two purposes. One to tell the word what I am doing as a leader has educational backing to it, take us more seriously than just being an activist leader. Second is my personal achievement to say yes I am educated by the best of schools. This will go along way to boost confidence and help me stamp a better outcome.
Bush foundation has taught me that my leadership growth is important. I value it so much. I can not thank the foundation enough. because I am a bush foundation fellow I had time last year to speak to 15,000 kids, educate and empower legislators, engage the world leaders in NGO, faith leaders, elected leaders and civil servants a better way for them to talk to their communities and win on the issue of extremism.
Thank you Bush foundation, you turned an activist to becoming a leader.