Loyens & Loeff has created this new Award together with ECHO to celebrate and support diversity and inclusion, and to show that it is one of the most important themes within its organisation. Read Assamaual's story below.
What does this nomination mean to you?
Assamaual: To be nominated for a prestigious award such as the ECHO Award is a great honour. Not only is the nomination an enormous recognition for my individual achievements and perseverance, but I also consider it a crowning achievement for the fact that as a practising Muslim with a non-Western background, you can be successful in our society. However, the road to where I am today was not an easy one. It was bumpy and full of holes and thresholds in which I struggled with my identity, while at the same time my parents became seriously ill, which was obviously just as hard. I also see the nomination as a recognition of my social commitment in recent years. In my first year, I took the initiative to establish the first Islamic student association at the UvA, of which I am a co-founder. In my last academic year, I was a member of the Central Student Council of the UvA, where I was involved in the diversity and inclusion file within the university. I opposed partnerships with companies that violate human rights and, together with a large group of students, I ensured that the UvA board withdrew its decision to cancel all exchanges, as a result of which nearly a thousand UvA students can still go abroad on their exchange this year. This nomination gives me a lot of energy to continue to dedicate myself to students.
What aspect of your background do you find valuable or an added value to the business world?
Assamaual: Since I grew up in a place where different cultural and religious groups and economic classes lived together, I got to know different layers of society and developed great curiosity combined with a broad and open mind. As a result, I can empathise with the experiences of different people from different backgrounds. Tolerance requires empathy for one another. Empathy requires knowledge about each other. Religion plays an important role in my life. It is an eternal driving force and infinite source of inspiration for moral awareness, charity, justice and tolerance. Furthermore, because of the large number of languages I speak, I can understand and fathom developments all over the world. I have the necessary intercultural and interfaith sensitivity.
What are your ambitions for the future?
Assamaual: In the coming years, I will continue to fight for a better legal position for students in a general sense and for more diversity and inclusion in higher education. After my law studies, I hope that as a lawyer I can help those people who are looking for justice but are not able to find it. People who have been caught between the spokes and the wheels of the government. People who are excluded because of who they are or what they believe. I hope to use my legal expertise for social justice and equal opportunities. For the social emancipation of Dutch Muslims and Dutch people with a non-Western migration background. At the same time, I do not want to let go of the university. I want to continue to expand my knowledge and hone my academic skills by obtaining a PhD after one or more master's degrees in a field of study I have yet to determine.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Assamaual: My parents have several thousand books at home. They urged me to read a lot when I was young. Also, the first revealed word from the Quran is 'iqra', which means 'read'. Because I did not sufficiently see the importance of this advice at the time, I often put it to the side. All things considered, reading books increases your flexibility in the use of language and, moreover, expands your knowledge considerably. If you read ten books on a certain subject, you can call yourself an expert in that area. Knowledge is light, it is life for the soul and fuel for the character. Indispensable.