Suleiman graduated from The Helmsman Project in 2015 and is now a Youth Ambassador of The Helmsman Project. Suleiman is currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Wollongong while also working part-time and running a business with a close friend.
“I was born and raised here in Sydney, but my heritage is middle eastern as my parents are immigrants from Syria and Lebanon. Growing up in a middle eastern household taught me many life lessons and beliefs which I have carried my entire life. From the way I greet people to how I enter other peoples’ homes, there are many social rules of etiquette that have become a big part of my life.
Before taking part in The Helmsman Project, I had always felt I was quite mature for my age, because I was raised with much older cousins and family members whose behaviours and traits influenced my own. I enjoyed participating in The Helmsman Project because the journey allowed me to find myself along the way and gain certainty in who I am as an individual. Through various leadership challenges, the process brought to the surface my own thoughts and beliefs which allowed me to discover myself.
Since graduating from the program, I have realised how much more I have matured. I have become a more focused and motivated individual. I think this comes down to the experience that allowed me to discover myself and my passion.
My favourite memory from the program was being fortunate enough to take part in a sailing trip for our adventure education component. It allowed me to form close friendships with people in my group which have lasted for many years.
This sailing experience also pushed me out of my comfort zone. I remember being shocked that I, a kid from Western Sydney, was in the middle of the ocean sailing from Darling Harbour to Jervis Bay. It was an incredible experience with many challenges that I still to this day share with friends and family.
Two of the biggest things I learned from The Helmsman Project were focus and leadership. The community project and the adventure education trip pushed me to consider how leadership changes depending on the setting. For the community project, we were in an enclosed, calm environment and we learnt how to work together as a team. For the sailing adventure, we were in a fast paced and new environment which required intense, quick communication and teamwork to get things done fast and in the moment.
Throughout the program, I developed a strong relationship with the two coaches we had. The coaches were extremely motivating and inspiring and played a big role in helping me achieve the goals I set for myself at the start of the program. The coaches were always there to talk to and helped me whenever I had concerns or questions.
From the program, I learnt to deal and work with a range of different individuals which has helped me immensely over the years. Teamwork and being able to lead a group of people who carry different ideas, beliefs and strengths is a challenging task, but when done successfully, it brings everyone together towards a common goal and a real sense of achievement.
I would definitely encourage other students to participate in The Helmsman Project. The experiences, lessons and memories you make along the way are priceless. It is a great program that all students would benefit from.
I am now a member of the Youth Board which has been very exciting. Having the opportunity to gain professional working experience and the opportunity to work on something which will play a major role in the future of The Helmsman Project is truly special and I am grateful for this experience. It is also exciting to maintain a connection with The Helmsman Project as the program taught me many life skills which I am now using every day.”