Aleem Siddiqui Guiapal: Hearing Beyond Words, Seeing Beyond Visuals

Aleem Siddiqui Guiapal is a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow and is using his time in the U.S. and his resources from his fellowship to embrace and celebrate diversity while managing the relationship between the Philippines and United States.

I have an Arab name. I am of Malay descent. I am from the Philippines. I am a Muslim Filipino. And, yes, I speak the way you speak.

It was challenging for me to leave home, a place where weeks before my departure more than 300,000 people were displaced by manmade disasters. Looking back, however, I made the best decision. It’s the same decision that brought me here in the first place. I have been given the opportunity to represent the Muslims from the Philippines — the Bangsamoro and how inclusivity matters to us as a nation.

Being a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow, I am able to bring opportunities back home and vice versa, and have become part of an international discourse to foster awareness of who we are in an environment that is molding global and future leaders from 133 countries. I have learned that the best way to learn is to embrace and celebrating diversity. Only on this path can we continue to coexist.

Over time I have learned that when we try to hear beyond words and see beyond visuals, we can see no differences in our colors. That you and me are the same —we both have the right to life, liberty and property. The challenging part is creating spaces and opportunities for everyone.

I have seen so much poverty that I would like to invest my time and resources designing a plan to build local and foreign investments to generate jobs. This to me is creating spaces.

I am humbled that I represent the Philippines here in the United States, in one of the most prestigious fellowship molding leaders for a global society. More than the economic plan which I intend to complete, I would like to share my story — the story of the Bangsamoro.