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How refugees and immigrants can turn experience into leadership

Wilson Kubwayo frente a banderas en su ceremonia de ciudadanía

Refugees and immigrants have already learned many life lessons they can use to become a leaders in their communities.

Leadership is the ability to motivate, inspire, and influence others to take a positive action. A positive action is any action that helps someone to become a better version of themselves. You are a leader when others look up to you. You are a leader when you influence others to do better things.

Leadership is also a way of behaving and thinking. Use your past challenges and struggles. Think about all the tough times you have had.  Everyone has a story. It is not what we go through that matters the most but what we learn from it. How can you take what you have experienced and turn it into an opportunity to create a positive change?

For example, when I came to the United States, I did not think that I had any leadership ability.

Having grown up in a refugee camp, I did not think of myself as a leader.

But that changed when students in the class would say all kinds of bad things about refugees in America. I learned how to stand up and share my story with them. I would share why we come to the USA. They began to learn the real issues and wanted to know more.

Leadership is about influencing others to become a better version of themselves. Leadership is about inspiring others to take a positive action to change.

Leadership is in relationships. It is through sharing what I learned from my struggles and challenges that I was able to form better relationships. Soon, I was looked as a leader in class and some students looked up to me.

Leadership is not about fancy titles. Leadership is about standing up for what is right and making the world a better place.

Personal values matter when it comes to leadership. Some people were forced to flee their homeland because of civil war or because of ethnic conflicts. A lesson to learn from this would be justice. A good leader must treat all the people with respect no matter who they are.

Another lesson one can learn from that is that unity brings peace. When people are not in unity, incidents such as wars and all sorts of conflicts take place. As result, some of us end up in refugee camps and seeking refugee elsewhere.

Think about sporting activities you have been involved in – maybe in refugee camps. Leadership is demonstrated in everything we do. In sports, you have to work together to accomplish one goal: to win. In life, a better leader is an individual who works with others to accomplish a goal that is better for everyone else.

When I played soccer in high school, we used to give each other a break and allow others to play. Sometime I would get mad because I wanted to keep playing. However, I realized that it is important to think of others. Sharing with others is a life lesson that is very important in leadership. In similarity to soccer, when a leader allows another person to lead that person is a good leader. Sports teach us to be team players. This is a great skill to have when it comes to leadership.

Caring is at the heart of a good leader.

Family and friends aim to help us be the best version ourselves. They teach us to care and love. Caring is one of the most important pieces of good leadership. How can you lead people you don’t care about?

Refugees have gone through difficulties and have already learned many life lessons. They have gone through pain and have experienced the world in a way that is different for most people. Therefore, it is important for refugees to see their past struggles and challenges not so much as obstacles, but as an opportunity to draw life’s lessons and turn them into leadership experience. Speak up and use your experiences to shape the world.

Las opiniones expresadas y los consejos dados en los blogs de USA Hello Voices y Hello son propios de los escritores. USAHello ofrece información imparcial y cursos en línea para ayudar a los recién llegados a los EE. UU.