Mr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, or Shamsh as he humbly allowed me to call him, is a remarkable individual who was an incredible role model for all of us students this week. Shamsh is the founding President and Trustee of Aga Khan University, the Former Minister of Education of Pakistan, and a member of the Talloires Network Steering Committee. But despite all of these titles, he remains modest, kind, and gracious. I am honored to have met him this week and am so glad that I was able to have this conversation to learn a little more about him.
1) What is one word that describes you?
A difficult question, but entrepreneurial. No matter which field I am in, I always try to maintain an entrepreneurial spirit.
2) What is meaningful to you?
Life is about sharing with others what I’ve learned. Education is a lifelong experience. One owes it to society to share one’s knowledge. My favorite quote, said by an Islam philosopher named Al Kindi, is: “We accept education because it teaches us values.”
3) What does the future in the global civic engagement movement in higher education look like to you?
I think it’s a very powerful movement with strong recognition across the world, throughout Asia, Africa, North and South America and Europe. This widespread movement indicates that universities are valuing their commitment and relevance to their communities. The most important part of this movement is for students to understand that civic engagement is a lifelong commitment.
4) If you could change 1 thing in the world today, what would it be? Why?
I would address the issue of female literacy and education. Through this issue, we can also address the issues of child mortality and maternal morality. We will also be encouraging education for the next education, as educated mothers will certainly want their kids to be educated as well. Furthermore, educating females will strengthen women’s rights as well as women’s status in society. By educating women, we will be bringing all of these women into the mainstream of activity, as they can now work and contribute to their family financially.
Shamsh, on behalf of all of the students at the Talloires Network Conference 2011, thank you so much for your words of wisdom and encouragement. You inspired us all.