”I want to develop and become a fantastic leader regardless of the context – because good leaders generate good leaders.”

Omar Alshogre about his first time as a Compass Rose scholar

”You no longer honor those who died to give you a life”
”You betrayed us”
”You are a traitor”

This, combined with many other  worrying comments, was the response after I was one of the recipients of the Compass Rose Scholarship. This response came from the Middle East’s destroyed view of leadership, where leadership is tightly linked to dictatorship and the hunger for power. I received many of these negative reactions after a TV channel made a video about my scholarship where they called me ”The Leader”. Despite this,  the positive responses were of course more noticable.

When the phone rang to announce that I had been assigned the Compass Rose, it was afternoon on an April day in Stockholm but early in the morning for me where I was living at the time in Philadelphia, USA. The phone rings and the words of the speaker come out saying ”Congratulations”. I was not awake enough to understand what I was congratulated for, but when it was made clear once more, I burst with energy, gratitude and happiness. The next step was to run up to my American family and tell them about the call. Finally Rebecca stopped talking and I ran up and jokingly said ”I will hang out with the Swedish King”. Everyone shouted ”Will you take us with you??”.

I have always thought of rewards and ways to show gratitude to my Swedish mother (Eva) who gave me a home and a whole family to live with, I finally had beautiful news to reward her with. Nothing could be better than making her proud, which she of course became. My biological mother (Hala) who sold everything she owned and was almost completely penniless to be able to only smuggle me out of prison. A prison that took three years out of my life at a young age and tore apart my mother’s  life. This combined with more deaths in the family, war and fleeing. In a clear sense, with this award I also want to make her proud and reverent for the beautiful country Sweden where we now live. The best thing I can do is make her proud.
The funniest result of this was that during an interview with a newspaper, I was asked ”What do you want to do with the scholarship check?”. Spontaneously and very unplanned, I replied ”No one is worth more than my mother, maybe I should pay to fix her teeth, her teeth that give her pain”. The article then resulted in dozens of dentists around the world writing to me via social media: ”Omar, I am a dentist and would like to take full responsibility and cost to fix your mother’s teeth”, ”I pay for your mother’s full treatment” and many like these . Then of course I went to my beautiful mother and told her that not only do I care about her but now also the whole world does, especially the dentists. This gave us a good laugh and hope for the future.

The money will not go to repairing my mother’s teeth, that has already been solved, but the prize money will go to developing my leadership skills. I want to develop and become a fantastic leader regardless of the context – because good leaders generate good leaders.

Omar Alshogre, 2020-10-02