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Seif-Eldeen Basheer Saqallah, BA, 2017

Field of Study:  BA in International Studies, AAPTIS, Judaic Studies, and Middle Eastern and North African Studies.

Graduation Year: 2017

I am Seif Saqallah, a blind 2017 UM graduate who has benefited much from the University of Michigan and particularly the Near Eastern Studies department.

I was born in Jordan and immigrated to the United States when I was 2. After attending Livonia and West Bloomfield Public schools, I was accepted to the University of Michigan, where I majored in AAPTIS, MENAS, Judaic Studies, and International Studies, and minored in Religion and Law, Justice, and Social Change. Two of my favorite campus organizations are MSA (Muslim Students Association) and MuJew (Muslims and Jews), an interfaith intercultural group which strives to create a bridge of empathy and understanding between two communities that are commonly misunderstood.

Through my wonderful interactions with and experiences in NES, I was given the tools to expand my horizons, to perceive my culture in a more nuanced and eye-opening light, and the ability to better understand today's global issues affecting the international arena. NES and UM taught me how to break down the dichotomy of me and the other, and to realize that today's world requires people adept at collaboration, that differences need not impede our similarities, and that a personal connection founded on empathy and respect awaits acknowledgment just below the surface. An open mind is a powerful mind. As the Quran (49:13) notes, "Truly We created you from a male and a female, and We made you peoples and tribes that you may come to know one another. Surely the most noble of you before God are the most reverent of you." This, along with the Bible's Mark 12:29-31 and Micah 6:8, where we are encouraged to love thy neighbor as yourself and to love kindness and walk humbly with your God, are my guiding principles.

Thanks to NES and everyone's support, I was accepted to the University of Michigan law school and the dual JD/MA program in Modern Middle Eastern and North African Studies, where I hope to study law and continue my interests in Arabic and Hebrew. Much of this would not have been possible without the constant energy and encouragement of the wonderful faculty, whom I always admire and whom I owe incalculable debts of gratitude. Thank you.

Combining Arabic and Hebrew: Shalom 'alaykhem, wa rahmat Allahi wa barakatuh. Peace be with you, and the mercy and blessings of God.