One of the most beautiful things about life is the differences that can be found in us all.
Everyone has their own “spice.” This can be culture, race or background. Spice is your story that’s waiting to be told and uncovered. Even if you think it isn’t interesting to someone else, it can be inspirational.
Maybe your story could motivate, cultivate and inspire. Everyone has their own traits that makes them unique and sets them apart from the rest.
On the Ole Miss campus, you can find a young man by the name Ismael Seydi.
Ismael Seydi is a sophomore at the university. He is Senegalese and Muslim. He was raised in New Jersey in a strict African home with his parents and younger brother.
“I guess you can say I see the world through the eyes of my parents,” Seydi said.
Choosing Ole Miss for the accounting program and the desire for a new space, Ismael uses the campus as a place to grow and learn about different cultures. Being a Black man in Mississippi has its ups and downs, but Ismael sees his African background as a place of empowerment.
“(When I was younger), people in school would make fun of me for being African. Now I have confidence in my identity,” he said.
Being Muslim and African connects and affects Seydi’s perspective, relationships and decisions. Many people don’t realize the ties that come with their identity and how it affects the spaces you fulfill.
The strictness of the household sculpted Seydi to be grateful for any opportunity and eager to learn about life. The beauty of African culture can’t be summed into a few words or even one or two people but the uniqueness of each individual is truly amazing.
Ismael juggles the typical college student’s load: school, family and maintaining a social life. His inspiration and motivation are found in finding his purpose and providing for his family. He also uses his decisions and choices as a platform to influence his younger brother.
“He has his own flow. He doesn’t have to see how the water is before he jumps in. He jumps in and tells others to jump in too,” Seydi said.
When discussing his family and experiences, it all seemed to tie into this idea and belief that everything Ismael does is for a purpose greater than himself. In life, we can all find ourselves searching for purpose and waiting for our talents and perspective to “make sense” in how we can give back to others or find our footing in the world.
Ismael described his story as “the traditional African child’s story” and while some of us view our stories as typical or normal, there is power in each of our experiences.
While he may view himself as typical, his story shows discipline, trust and motivation. There’s discipline in how he manages school and a completely different environment while still managing his connection to his religion and cultural background. There’s trust in believing that his story has a purpose and that he is a part of a bigger picture even if it doesn’t all tie together and make sense to even himself yet. There’s motivation to keep going despite the different obstacles, such as the way people view him because of his race or even religion.
When discussing his experiences and how they tie him together as a person, Seydi dwelled on being differentiated from the stereotypes and assumptions.
“It’s like I have to go above and beyond. Be really outside the box so people will know to treat me differently,” Seydi said.
And whether he realizes it or not, he has already done just that.
Bre’Anna Coleman is a sophomore political science major from Drew, Miss.