During my interview with Salma Sarwary (episode 2), she shares a snapshot of her immigration journey where she witnessed a man being eaten alive by stray animals in the middle of a night. Despite her hardships during early immigration, Salma thrived. Currently, she works as a business director at a small company here in San Diego and shares a few great lessons with the listeners.
1. Salma inspires the listeners with her perseverance. When the school counselor informed her “based on what I’m looking at, you would be lucky to graduate”, she persists.
“I want to go to university! I want to go to university”
and demands for the requirements to apply for college. At the end, not only she graduates with the presidential award and the highest GPA from her high-school, but also the only university that her family allow her to attend accepts her application.
2.Salma’s dad urged her to be a problem solver at a young age. Reciting poems, he asked young Salma to define hard vocabularies. “Find it! Figure it! Solve it!” This thought her an important lesson “you are so capable, you can solve your own problems, you could go search, you could go find” She believes this attitude resulted in many successes she had in life.
3.“Giving up was never an option to me” Salma said. Her story is an example of this inner belief. When life got difficult, she could give up and marry before she turned 14, but she didn’t. She went to school, get educated, and raise the bar for herself.
4.When many avoid taking risks and choose the safest option, Salma embraces challenges in life.
“Challenge is a mystery to me.”
With this perspective, she took many risks in her career as she tried various opportunities. “Throughout my life, I was not afraid but of course was intimidated but managed to open doors” referring to discovering opportunities.
5.Salma recommends the audience to be more accepting toward other cultures. “If you just stay where you belong, you feel like you belong. You feel like you are comfortable. [But] you are not going to see any differences… Your [going to] only see [the world] through a narrow hole. [So] just push apart, just pull apart and explore… [when you do] It gives you tolerance” “see different culture, different approach, different value, different belief” which impacts your personal life.