I think I’d like to be her friend | TED: See Yemen Through (Nadia Al-Sakkaf’s) Eyes


A few months ago, I shared a story I had read about a girl in Yemen. ONE of the many things I love about stories is that one story makes me hungry for more stories – more knowledge – a wider, more accurate view of the world. Reading Nujood’s story back in April made me start paying more intentional attention to Yemen. So, when I saw there was a TED talk by Nadia Al-Sakkaf – I actually knew who she was (the Editor of the Yemen Times) and I was eager to “See Yemen Through [her] Eyes” (the name of her TED talk).

And, of course, I think you should SEE too!

(If the video does not show up… click here!)

I think I’d like to be her friend. Obviously, our stories are quite different but I actually think we have a lot in common (and that’s another thing I love about stories. There’s usually SOMETHING you can SOMEHOW relate to). Here’s why…

In her story, she shared:

I studied in India. And in my third year, I started becoming confused because I was Yemeni, but I was also mixing up with a lot of my friends in college. And I went back home and I said, “Daddy, I don’t know who I am. I’m not a Yemeni, I’m not an Indian.” And he said, “You are the bridge.” And that is something I will keep in my heart forever.

I’ve shared with you before the analogy of “being green” (a life of not fitting in) and if you’ve spent much time with me, you’ve probably heard me talk about it many times. I’ve spent time overseas in a few different places. I’ve been changed by all the places I’ve been. I JUST got back from 13 months in Asia – and I’m more GREEN than ever before. And just like Nadia said, sometimes that can get a little confusing. Who am I really? But her father was so wise in his answer. A bridge. We get to be bridges. People who live between cultures and help (somehow) to link them together – to better understand each other a bit more, or at least to CARE more.

I also relate to the influence her father had on her believing she could be an agent of change in the world, and a bridge. She says at different points that her father always told her she was equal to men. He always affirmed her ability to be a strong women who influences the world. I was thinking about this just recently… If I hadn’t had a father who believed in my abilities I wouldn’t be me. I can think of several strong memories of my own Daddy telling me he believed I was going to change the world. He told me I was going to do greater things than he ever did. And I believed him. He gave me courage to try. And maybe even courage to fall on my face a few times in the process.

[Note to Men: If you ever get the chance… Be this kind of a Daddy. Tell your daughters they can change the world and make it a better place. And they just might.]

She also has a passion to be an educator about various sides of realities in her country and in the world, and she’s in a great spot to do that as the Editor of the Yemen Times. She talks about the need to go beyond stereotypes, to realize that Yemen is a place with more than just Al Qaeda and terrorism, and that it’s not fair for the world to see Yemen in one single frame (like Chimamanda Adichie talked about in her TED talk about the dangers of a single story).

So basically… if you didn’t already, you should stop reading what I have to say and watch/listen to Nadia Al-Sakkaf…

Dear Nadia, Can we be friends? Let’s have coffee. :)

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