Variety of cultural experiences help senior Ayah Elsheikh find her passion for helping others

By Journalism I student Fia Gallicchio, ‘22

Imagine if you were to move to a brand new country, without knowing anyone. Being thrust into a strange and foreign culture, and not knowing anything about it, after living in the same place for 11 years. Moving is a difficult process for many, and for senior Ayah Elsheikh this remains true. 

Elsheikh, whose family came from Sudan, was born in UA before moving to Saudi Arabia and finally returning to UA again in 2017. Despite the upheaval of moving from country to country, Elsheikh is in many different extracurricular activities and has many different goals. 

Elsheikh’s passion for helping others helps her work hard and achieve her goals.

Elsheikh moved to Saudi Arabia June of 2013. While she was there Elsheikh had problems connecting with the people living there. “I kind of tucked myself into a little shell, and said I didn’t want those connections,” Elsheikh said. 

After moving back to UA, Elsheikh reconnected with friends from elementary school. However, there are people that Elsheikh didn’t reconnect with after moving back. “One of my biggest regrets is not reaching out and connecting with those people again, because they were an important part of my life,” Elsheikh said.

Despite that, Elsheikh’s time in Saudi Arabia wasn’t all negative. While she was there, Elsheikh got to travel to many different neighboring countries, such as Oman, Dubai, France and Sudan. 

Saudi Arabia was a positive experience for Elsheikh, despite how much it changed her life. “Before, I wasn’t really in-tune with my culture, with my second language (which is Arabic), and I just, I didn’t truly have the connections to Sudan that I do now,” Elsheikh said. “Going to a school in which you see 20 different ethnicities in a room of 30 people, it just completely shifts the way you’ve viewed life, that you’ve viewed people.”

Moving isn’t the only thing Elsheikh does. She also does many different extracurricular activities, such as Ambassadors of Change, National Honors Society, and the Arlingtonian. Elsheikh is co-president of Culture and Diversity club and the director of promotions for UA Idea Day. She does not currently play any sports; however, this was not always the case. 

When Elsheikh moved to Saudi Arabia she did many different sports, such as Tennis and Cross Country. “Once I moved away I found a place for myself through sports,” Elsheikh said. When Elsheikh came back, she ended up going to Dublin Coffman High School. “It kind of brought me off my feet a little bit, and I had trouble finding grounding,” said Elsheikh. Because of this, she ended up not getting back into sports. 

It may seem odd why someone would do so many clubs and activities, however, Elsheikh has a passion that drives her forward. “They all kind of revolve around working with the community, and getting people in the school involved,” said Elsheikh. “I’m just really passionate about making change, and that’s why I do the things that I do.”

All of Elsheikh’s extracurriculars revolve around communication and diplomacy. This isn’t a coincidence, in fact Elsheikh wants to major in things relating to those topics. “I know I wanna major in International Relations and Economics,” Elsheikh said.  

“I see myself in the future working with underprivileged communities, and kind of trying to create a better system for those people to find grounding,” Elsheikh said. 

“I want to get out of here,” Elsheikh said when talking about what she wants to do in the future. “I’m really excited about the idea of adventuring off into the unknown, and I feel like Ohio is just a bit too comfortable at this point.” 

Elsheikh would not be the same person she was today if it were not for her time spent in Saudi Arabia. Even if moving might have hurt her connections to other people, Saudi Arabia was an ultimately positive experience for her.