CELEBRATE HER: LOUREEN AYYOUB
Our first feature is my beautiful friend, Loureen Ayyoub. She carries a powerful voice and releases it from such a heart of purity. As a gifted storyteller, “she believes that a story well told has the ability to unite more people than any textbook could aspire to achieve.” She speaks with truth, conviction and passion. It’s evident that Loureen approaches everything in her life with intentionality and purpose, including her career.
Founder and director of The Global Human, Loureen desires this digital platform to be one “that crosses conventional boundaries in order to discover the many beautiful and unknown interconnections of humanity.” To add on to Loureen's list of incredible endeavors, she recently accepted a position from Azusa Pacific University where she will be a professor teaching on “Immigration and Integration.” Needless to say, she’s an inspiration and we need to keep up with this woman who’s making a mark on our society today!
As I sat down to connect with her and had the honor to learn more about her culture, her heart, her career and vision - what I find I admire most about her is that she is driven by compassion and boldly lives her life with eternal perspective!
We are honored to have her featured on Crowns of Beauty, Celebrate Her series!
Tell us about some things that you are deeply passionate about? What moves your heart and stirs you into activation?
PEACE AND RECONCILIATION!
Senseless violence really hurts me. My belief is that, as a species of the 21st century, if we could advance in so many ways, from technology, medicine, and beyond, then we should have the human capacity to avoid intentional bloodshed.
Misperception that leads to violent outcomes has always been a heavy issue on my heart - mainly because if one has the ability to understand properly, then one should then have the ability to avoid conflict properly!
That was a primary trigger for me when I decided I was going to use my voice for the voiceless - when I realized so many misunderstandings stemmed from stories being told in an irresponsible manner.
Please share more about your time in the middle east and how it impacted you, even in terms of your career choice today?
Even though my heritage is Middle Eastern, I experienced a very intense culture shock upon my first trip to the region. At the age of 15, in a post 9/11 era, arriving in Jordan's airport was a very magical moment for me, but also a very sobering one. I remember seeing a huge mural of the King (they are everywhere, since the country is still governed as a Monarchy) and I pointed at the painting and said something harmless to my father about the image on the wall.
Immediately my father told me to put my hand down, lest the security in the area suspected any negative chatter. I slowly realized that as an American and as a woman, my freedom of expression would certainly not translate well in the Middle East.
Media censorship is the norm for both the government and the culture in the Middle Eastern region, but that was not what I was accustomed to. I was an avid writer from a young age, but journalism in that type of setting is an entirely different experience. Getting to know countless first cousins for the first time was so special to me, but it was also very disheartening to realize that the blind lack of expression they endured, was not something to be questioned, nor even something to be recognized.
The experience was a bittersweet combination of genuine love and arduous limitation. As a very expressive young female with a lot of questions, I felt a sense of imprisonment. I knew the culture was conservative, but the extent of the conservatism really shook me up. I had to adjust not just my attire to fit some of the very dangerous neighborhoods my family lived in (ones in which I could not walk around alone as a female) - but also my whole mindset. In the midst of that atmosphere, I felt voiceless. Environments can weigh heavy on you. But I knew upon my return back home, I could no longer take my own privilege for granted. I had to use my voice.
I wanted to highlight the positive aspects of the culture that most Americans could not accept post 9/11, but also shed light on areas where justice is needed - justice in both the East and the West.
We know that your faith plays a big role in your life. How has your faith in God influenced your life? Your career, relationships, outlook, etc.
Faith fuels everything I do. My identity is a primary product of my faith. Many people feel a sense of "belonging" through their nationality - that never really made sense for me. I am a minority here, and a minority there. Though I am proud of my cultural heritage and appreciative of my American nationality, man-made borders do not define me - My faith in a God who sees all as His one, beloved creation - that is what defines me. I will never feel "American" enough or "Arab" enough - but through my identity as a daughter of the Heavenly King - I am always enough.
My faith is what keeps me always ambitious to create more. If God gave me a voice, talents, and beauty in His likeness, then it is my responsibility to make use of such gifts, spreading a message of love and tolerance. I look to the scripture of the Parable of the Talents, where stewarding what you have been given is of utmost importance. Though it is easier said than done, I don't ever want fear to hold me back, I want to look back and know that I utilized all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me, for something greater than myself.
How has your faith impacted your career?Have you seen it influence the way you approach your howinterviews?
My faith fuels the stories I tell as a journalist. I believe in the importance of capturing the root of an issue being explored, and that often leads me to delving into themes regarding immortality, life and death. You might see me in a less intense atmosphere, like a red-carpet event, but you can almost always guarantee that my questions will still be intense. Since I have the conviction of an eternity beyond our temporary time here on this earth, I like to investigate issues pertaining to legacy, the ideas of peace, reconciliation, and mutual understanding.
That’s so incredible. I’m sure people have been soimpacted by your unique and purposeful approach to your interviews!
If you could tell your younger self a piece of advice, what would you say to her?
Stop caring what people think! People will not get you anywhere, it is only your own courage and God's grace that will. Just be concerned with what He thinks of you. He loves you unconditionally. Don't be afraid of trying new experiences! Everything you learn can be of use. Nothing is in vain.
"Stop caring what people think! Just be concerned with what God thinks of you..."
- Loureen Ayyoub
Crowns of Beauty would like to know how YOU would define beauty?
Beauty is a courageous boldness to be wholeheartedly yourself, despite the pressure that might result from it.
It's that shameless confidence in being completely yourself. When women, who may not fit the societal expectations of what beauty is supposed to look like, have an effortless confidence about them - that’s beautiful.
Women who can confidently say, I know who I am and I own who I am.
"Beauty is a courageous boldness to be wholeheartedly yourself, despite the pressure that might result from it..."
- Loureen Ayooub
When do you feel most beautiful?
I feel most beautiful when my spirit is filled with the confidence of God's purpose for me. That's why I try to monitor what I watch and what I hear, because society has a way of making you feel inadequate no matter what you look like or what you have achieved. It's a daily decision to appreciate your health, your mind, and your surroundings.
Describe a moment when you felt most beautiful?
A moment I could look back at and remember feeling extremely beautiful is when I graduated with my Masters degree in International Relations from the University of San Francisco. It is not because I had the best makeup artist and fashion stylist to create the most amazing look, it is not because I went to the most prestigious university in the nation, though I do love my DONS!
It is because I was astonished to look back at where I started; a young girl who struggled with keeping her grades up in junior high and high school, a young girl who needed a tutor for anything math and science related, a young girl who had to take the community college route, a young girl who was the first in her family to receive a Bachelor’s degree, let alone a Masters.
It was in that moment that I realized I was a pioneer, both for myself, and for my family. I had broken the mold for not just my generation, but also the ones to come. I remember going up to get my degree and seeing my family and friends in the crowd looking at me with such a genuine joy and pride. I made them smile, and that, that made me smile, in the most beautiful way!
"It was in that moment that I realized I was a pioneer, both for myself, and for my family. I had broken the mold for not just my generation, but also the ones to come."
- Loureen Ayyoub
So beautiful, indeed!
Lastly, we love what you are doing to tell important stories and overall, being a voice that needs to be heard in our generation today! We want to hear about The Global Human! How did it get started? What’s the vision?
The Global Human started when I embarked on a humanitarian trip to the Middle East with the wonderful nonprofit, Roads of Success. We were working in Iraq on the ground with the refugee camps, and I was in charge of developing art therapy workshops.
I was working in public relations at the time, and knew the importance and impact of a well documented story, so I wanted to do my due diligence, and capture the true spirit of the refugee survivors in whom I was in contact with. The western rhetoric at the time was that refugees possessed potentially the same danger as ISIS, and therefore we should not let them in.
My interest was less a political one, but rather a desire to humanize these beautiful souls. I began writing articles about my experience on the ground.
Upon my return, my desire to build-bridges expanded into all cultures, not just limited to the Middle East. I lived in a very eclectic neighborhood and I wanted to document both diversity and social justice initiatives in an authentic manner. Having lived in Argentina previously, I had a strong connection to Latin culture, and so I began capturing local stories pertaining to the Latin community in Los Angeles, then the Korean community, then the Armenian community, then the African-American community - and so on and so on.
The Global Human now operates as a digital platform to tell stories for underrepresented groups and causes. The vision is to decrease hate-crimes by highlighting the positive aspects of a community, increasing intercultural competence, and establishing long-lasting unity.
I'm super excited to share that I'll also be expanding my storytelling into the classroom setting, as I will be a Professor with APU's Sociology and Global Studies department - teaching a course on "Immigration and Integration" with an LA focus!
The pursuit of unity and mutual understanding continues!
If you have been inspired by Loureen Ayyoub, please send her some love! Check out the Global Human on: www.theglobalhuman.com and follow her on social media!
We honor the woman of God that she is, the courageous heart she carries, and the important voice that she has in media! Thank you for blessing and inspiring us with your voice!
We celebrate you, Loureen, your story, your life and how beautifully it will continue to unfold.