Asmaa Elamrousy’s passion for happiness is pushing her to change international relations and make the world a brighter, more understanding place.

Hello, world! My name is Asmaa Elamrousy and I am a 22-year-old descendant of people most commonly known for possessing a rich heritage and making phenomenal contributions to society. My family and I are from an ancient land that was once abode to pharaohs but is now filled with bumper-to-bumper traffic-laden streets, creative youth playing street soccer and decorated rickshaws driven by upbeat spirits. Have you guessed my country of birth yet? It’s Egypt — more specifically, my mother’s hometown of Qalub, which is located on the outskirts of Cairo.

It is a place I did not grow up in, but I always felt like it was home whenever I visited. You see, I am an individual who finds herself in the presence of community, and I become in the essence of spontaneity. Qalub is all encompassing of my values and what I wish to see throughout the world I reside in. It’s that tight-knit community-oriented town where every neighbor looks out for one another. It’s that residential area where sparks of light and innovation can be found in the eyes of youth that share hilarious anecdotes, and that place where elders discuss experiences of accomplished dreams and allot words of wisdom in local cafes. The way the people of Qalub operate is by demonstrating genuine love, generosity, faith and gratitude towards one another. This is the Egypt I know of based on summer vacations to the beauty abroad, but I always wondered what life would’ve been like had my parents decided to raise me, my brother and my little sister there instead of Astoria, Queens, and Staten Island, New York City, in the U.S.

Now, before anyone thinks I don’t have a love for the “hustle and bustle” city filled with fast-talkers that’ll speak their mind to you, and warm hearts that’ll open and turn up down-turned curves on a previously stressed expression, let me tell you how much I owe my loyalty to a city that taught me strength, courage and the determination to strive for success as I continue my quest to achieve my dreams. My dream is to work as a diplomat for the United Nations. This aspiration is influenced by my faith, family, friends and educators who radiate the peace, love and light that the world needs. I’m an idealist so there may be some eye rolls here, but everyone has a passion and world happiness is mine.

Despite the high cost of living in New York City, I am very grateful for being raised in a city that has a wealth of information, opportunity and literally the world in its site. I wouldn’t be an international studies major or devotee to the United Nations if I didn’t make a joke about how many people from all walks of life reside here or come here to solve issues caused by other humans. However, I didn’t always know what I wanted to do with my life as I had many interests sparked by several life experiences. It wasn’t until I made the decision to rock Hijab, a headscarf, way of dress and behavior that made me an easily definable Muslim woman, that I realized my shine would radiate strong beams on people who weren’t prepared with shades to protect their eyes, so I wanted to change that and influence more people to give out sunglasses to those who need it.

When people wear sunglasses, it is to be more comfortable with the reality of the sun’s brightness. I wholeheartedly believe everyone has a shine in them or physical, spiritual, philosophical, biological “difference” in the way of living their life that other people might not understand or be afraid of. As a way to combat what they don’t know, or try to express what they “do know,” bare-eyed people vehemently attack that light and try to shut it down rather than take time to find a pair of sunglasses to learn to live with each other’s shine comfortably.

Shine is someone’s positive energy, or unique characteristics that promote the spread of knowledge and can benefit masses and create the beautiful, loving, caring and understanding souls that we are meant to be. My specific shine is being an outspoken Muslim woman with an expressive personality that was influenced by life experiences and the presence of a precious angel dear to my heart, my younger sister Nooran Elamrousy.

My family’s known for being creative and having shine. My mom writes Arabic poetry while my dad’s known for his swift Bruce-Lee like fighting skills. When I was younger, I loved to express my creativity through art and singing, Ahmed loved rapping and wrestling, while Nooran loved art, she was the comedian and jolt of joy in the family. We would all have rap battles and my brother would always beat us — but that encouraged my sister and me to keep trying.

My younger sister played a huge role in my life during the 12 years she was here on this earth. Not only was she was the inspiration behind the first poem I ever wrote, which I titled “The Angel Who Left Footprints on My Heart,” but her old soul taught me that confidence is key to accomplishments, and spreading positivity in the world can have beautiful outcomes. I strive every day to carry on the legacy that my role model left behind. She loved everyone, and would pray for others to have peace and happiness. My shine is inspired by her shine.

There are some people who acknowledge shine or difference whether it be in cultures, values, religion, race, ethnicities, genders and age, but then create their own inferences without engaging in discourse with the person they think they know. This is when stereotypes are created and misunderstandings often arise as a result. Among the biggest issues I face as an Egyptian-American Muslim living in America is the bigotry plaguing the minds and hearts of people who can be decent human beings.

As a Hijabi, I find myself more of a target for those who like spewing negative energy all over the place because “they can,” since “it’s a free country.” My bright fabrics and matching personality may cause outrage in some. However, I am unapologetic for who I was raised to be and who I am. I am proud of being born into a belief system with a peaceful community that unites people to embark on a pilgrimage to Mecca in search of a cleansed soul. I submit to a lifestyle that brings me closer to my Creator and gives me confidence that to be close is to have a pleasant afterlife. I am a Muslim New Yorker who has faced adversity numerous times because of my faith, but in following the example of Prophet Muhammad, I forgave those who wronged me. My desire is to make the world a better place for everyone, so feel free to join in on my journey to provide some sunglasses for people.

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