I attended a dinner for Fulbright Scholars in New York last week and met this man, Dr Dastidar, who is now a Distinguished Professor at the State University of New York. He was from a refugee family that lived in India. Determined to make a mark for himself, Dr Dastigar travelled and studied in the United States in search of a better life. We chatted on end about his three decades of struggle. Both of us talked as if we had known each other for so long. His life story was so inspiring and memorable that I would like to share Four Gems from this former refugee-turned-Professor for the benefit of the readers.
1. Do not lament over the Past
The mistakes we have done and the lost opportunities we have had, according to the Professor, should be a source of motivation for us to work harder rather than an excuse to continue to do badly in life. The wrong things we did and the tragedies that befell us should be guides for us to avoid committing the same errors. The sooner we learn from the setbacks we encounter, the faster we move in our journey to success.
2. Family as the Main Support System
The Professor told me that he would not have attained success in life without the help he received from his parents, relatives, wife and children. These are the people that kept urging him to persist in his strive to do well. He would also cheer them on to be just as successful as him. Without parents praying for him and without his wife and children keeping him on track, he would have been a Nobody.
3. Be Generous
Dr Dastigar showed and explained me how valuable generousity can be. He would help young people cope with life in New York and invite them to his humble home. In many instances, he would advice them on the ways to do well in their respective pursuits in a foreign country. The people whom he met and helped would later on become the same people who assisted him in his career. What goes around comes around.
4. Live simply
Coming from a refugee family, the Professor learnt to appreciate the value of things. He would spend little on luxuries and more on things related to knowledge, education and necessities. His home is rich with books and even his watch is an old brand which he bought not for the sake of showing off but to tell time, for Time is Precious for him. He taught his children to live simply and to put knowledge before anything else. Both of his children are now teaching and researching at reputable American Universities. Indeed, a Simple Life can Produce the Most Sophisticated People.
I believe Muslims in Singapore can produce hundreds or perhaps thousands of distinguished persons such as Professor Dastigar. If the son of a refugee who came to India and then settled in the USA with nothing except the Will to Succeed could make it in Life, why not us?