“Today, I am truly proud of my roots. Everybody should be proud of where they come from. ”
Do you often feel that you are alone and different, without a bright future ahead of you? You do not have to feel like that. Success comes from inside, and it starts with a decision.
Do you—or does someone you know—feel underrated and treated like an “underdog”? Do you feel that life has thrown you many challenges, such as dyslexia, a difficult childhood, a criminal past, or something else?
Soulaima Gourani tells you about the advantage of having had a difficult start in life—challenges that “normal, elite people” do not carry as part of their baggage. She prompts you to see how unique you really are, thereby helping you take the step from being alone to becoming the only one!
Soulaima Gourani offers tips, tools from practical experience, insight into research, and courage to help you look at your flaws and experiences as gasoline and a motivating force.
The lecture is relevant to schools, principals, administrators of drop-in centers, and private companies that want to let all their employees feel that they can get far in life and career if they really want to.
If you ask Soulaima why she takes this particular lecture to heart, she will tell you this story:
“When I take a taxi and the driver asks, ‘Where are you from, Soulaima?’ until I turned 30, I would always reply, ‘From Denmark of course!’ slightly annoyed!”
I grew up with one foot planted in Danish soil, in Odense, where you eat pig’s trotters, drink schnapps, and are preoccupied with the conditions of the working class, while my other foot planted in my father’s well-educated, practicing Muslim family. Two total opposites. For more than 30 years, I turned my back on my Arabian family, history, and cultural heritage.
A child can feel it when their roots are not considered as good as others’. It hits you hard when people think you are not good enough. This greatly affected me. I refused to learn Moroccan, and therefore, I never gained an understanding of my own cultural background. When I was younger, I often felt embarrassed about my Arabian roots. I questioned everything—my first name, family name, skin color. My Moroccan father, with his dark, distinctive looks and roaring, impulsive personality, did not exactly fit into the not-very-exotic Danish towns and villages that we lived in during my childhood.
My childhood story is not picture-postcard.
I learned early on that in a Danish family a wild and unruly child could be named “Sulejma.” I was a real “Sulejma”—someone you noticed because I talked fast and loud and had a lot on my mind—plus I had an exotic appearance. Everybody asked me to be quiet and act like a nice girl. I only knew how to be myself—at a high speed!
It took me more than 20 years to understand that my talent was exactly what people were asking me to stop doing. And it was not until after my father passed away and I visited his family in his native country that I learned who I really am.
Today, I am truly proud of my roots. Everybody should be proud of where they come from. No background, history, or family is better than any other. I admit that I often dreamed that a family would adopt me and take me to a place where clothes were washed using fabric softener and folded, where you would sit and drink tea and eat freshly baked bread every day after school. I did not get the chance to experience that kind of home. However, I had a childhood with many good and bad experiences. The good thing is that all my experiences at the children’s home, in the many schools that I attended, as well as in the many relocations mean that, as an adult, I am very good at meeting new people, starting new projects, and reading cultures and group sentiments, and that I find my bearing even in chaotic surroundings. My tough childhood has given me strength, will, independence, and drive as an adult.
We should be proud of who we are, no matter where we come from. Everybody carries something in their baggage. You have yours, and I have mine—and there is always dirty laundry in everyone’s baggage. Nowadays, when a driver asks me, “Where are you from, Soulaima?” I jauntily answer, “I was born in Safi, Morocco.”
Please contact Soulaima if you wish to register for a specific lecture or a combination of topics tailored to your needs.
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