x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Life lessons: Tom Le Seelleur

Wisdom and advice from a senior lecturer at Khalifa University in Sharjah.

Tom Le Seelleur, a senior lecturer in Sharjah. Antonie Robertson / The National
Tom Le Seelleur, a senior lecturer in Sharjah. Antonie Robertson / The National

Tom Le Seelleur is a senior lecturer at Khalifa University in Sharjah who has a passion for reading. His 25-year-old mind lives in a body twice his mental age. He is in the fourth Reading Roadshow, which will feature inspirational speakers at Ajman University.

1. Appreciate the power of the individual. As a husband, a father, a brother, a friend or a colleague, we each possess the power to change one person - our wife, son or daughter, sister or brother, buddy or co-worker. The energy of change through each person contributing will transform our society into a knowledge-based world that is well-informed, literate and culturally sensitive. The power of two working together leads to greater influence, a melding of minds, and teamwork on the same road.

2. Changing a culture takes time. One person starts, it doubles to two and by three you have a network. I believe that we need to create a culture of reading in the UAE and the Middle East. Inside each of us is a Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Aung San Suu Kyi. Inspire, motivate and encourage. Nurture a love of books, literature, a habit of reading. Share your newspaper, your book, your Kindle and your stories.

3. Focus on grass-root changes starting with your own family and circle of friends and let the degrees of separation form a vast army of activists. I do this to encourage reading, but you can do it for whatever cause you want to support.

4. Readers are leaders. The five pillars of Islam are duties that are obligatory to all Muslims. These duties are shahadah, salaah, zakat, saum and Haj. The first word of the Holy Quran is "Read". Lead by example at home, at school and at work.

5. Persevere. If at first you don't succeed, stick with your plan. Stay focused, persist. We can all achieve - just believe in yourself and get someone to support you.


As told to Helena Frith Powell