Wednesday, August 23, 2023 Husker Dialogues: Q&A with Sukaina Al-Hamedi
Last updated August 23, 2023.
The annual Husker Dialogues is happening from 7 to 8:30 p.m. September 6 in the Coliseum. All first-year students are expected to participate in this community-building activity. Students will hear from their Husker peers before breaking out into small groups with conversation guides about how to build an inclusive campus for everyone. Meet one of the Husker Dialogues speakers, Sukaina Al-Hamedi.
Sukaina Al-Hamedi, a fourth-year student studying Biochemistry from Lincoln, Nebraska, is bringing important conversations to light with Husker Dialogues. Sukaina believes in the power of listening and learning from others, a message Sukaina hopes to continue spreading across our campus.
Can you tell us a little about your experience with Husker Dialogues as a first-year student? What was that experience like? What did it mean to you? What were your takeaways?
"My experience with Husker Dialogues as a first-year student was rather unique, as it took on a virtual format. I graduated high school at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, so there was a lot that I missed out on in the beginning of my UNL experience. I did not get to experience Husker Dialogues in-person, as the pandemic did not allow for gatherings that large. I always respected the effort that UNL made to create Husker Dialogues and value the impact it can have on first-year students, which is why I am excited to be a speaker this year!"
What drew you to become a Husker dialogues speaker?
"I wanted to promote civic discussion on subjects that might have otherwise been swept under the rug, and shine light on the fact that just because a topic is not trending, doesn’t mean it is not happening. Most importantly, I had a message to send to all first-year students, that I wish I heard when I was in my first year."
Explain why Husker Dialogues is such an important event on campus.
"Husker Dialogues allows for civic discussion. Many majors, such as mine, do not include courses where these kinds of topics are facilitated and discussed. So, Husker Dialogues serves as an opportunity for every student of every major to share their experiences and hear from others. Just sitting down and listening to someone else’s viewpoint introduces everyone to new ideas, fosters critical analysis, and spreads awareness."
Who or what inspired you to become involved in organizations and events such as Husker Dialogues?
"I had a message to send, and it needed to reach a wider audience. The first step is always starting the conversation."
Explain your passion for making UNL a more inclusive campus.
"There is always room to include everybody. Because of my individual experiences, I advocate for assuring that other students and members of our campus community do not have to experience similar issues. With certain improvements, our perspective on diversity and inclusion will grow to be even more beneficial and impactful."
Explain why it is important to learn and connect with Huskers from all different backgrounds.
"Listening to other people’s stories allows you to think more openly. Diversity of thought propagates innovation. Someone’s thoughts and opinions will vary based on every aspect of their life- not just their ethnic background (though it certainly plays a large role). Someone’s spiritual beliefs, their family background, medical history, and the type of schooling they received also influence the way they view the world. Everyone has a new idea to contribute, and there is always room to include all backgrounds."
What does having “brave conversations” mean to you?
"Brave conversations are those that require open-mindedness, critical thinking, patience, and the ability to empathize with those who not only differ from you but disagree with you. Brave conversations may include showing vulnerability by sharing a difficult story. It can also include being able to confront tension during a controversial subject in a way that helps people learn about each other, instead of fighting one another."
What is the best way for students to build connections on campus?
"Don’t let imposter syndrome win. Take the opportunities that come your way. They are all opportunities to learn, with people who want to help you learn. You never know what types of opportunities your mentors will come across and pass to you. Most importantly, make sure you know why you do the activities you choose to do."
Who inspires you?
"I am inspired by Sarafina El-Badry Nance. She is an Egyptian-American astrophysicist and author that is always striving to show the world that it is possible to do whatever your mind is set to, even in the face of hardship. She uses her platform to share her stories and show others that they can both follow their passions and become advocates for the causes they deeply care for. "
Who is your role model on campus?
"I do not have one specific role model on campus, because I am always learning from every individual that I encounter every day."
What steps are important to you to build an inclusive campus for everyone?
"A major step in building a truly inclusive campus is listening to everybody’s perspectives, and not shutting down someone else’s idea immediately simply because there is disagreement. Be open to conversation and meeting new people. The mindset of us as individual students is important. We should acknowledge that our personal opinions come from every aspect of ourselves (where we grew up, the schools we went to, the religion/culture) and we are a product of it all. We need to remember that the people around us are also products of their experiences and environment."
What impact do you hope to have on campus and in our community?
"Ideally, the projects I mention in my speech will be completed. Middle Eastern/ North African students at UNL (both domestic and international) will feel comfortable knowing that their background is finally acknowledged in University Demographics and Diversity Reports. I hope that the impact will be everlasting."