By now, most FIJI brothers have heard about the Fraternity’s initiative Building Courageous Leaders. For Phi Gamma Delta, there are three basic elements of courageous leadership: understanding and committing to the Fraternity’s values, recognizing the testing points when the values are challenged, and applying the values at the testing point and confronting the issue.
Throughout our lives, we all face many testing points. Some are easily overcome, while others are difficult and have a profound impact on our lives.
What would you do if you were threatened and called a traitor to your homeland? If you were unable even to go home to see your family?
These are just a few of the testing points that Daud Baz (Ohio Wesleyan 2017) has faced throughout his college career.
Daud, who is from Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, first came to the United States in 2010 to attend high school. In 2013, he began his college career at Ohio Wesleyan University. There had not been many leadership opportunities in Afghanistan, so Daud took every chance to improve his leadership skills at OWU. In his chapter, he served as Philanthropy Chairman and Corresponding Secretary. From 2015-2016, he served as treasurer and president of Horizons International, an international student organization at OWU. Currently, Daud serves on the Senior Class Council and on the Student Conduct Board. He also serves as treasurer of the Wesleyan Council of Student Affairs and as Membership Director of the President’s Club. During the fall 2016 semester, he was elected the Class of 2017 trustee on OWU’s Board of Trustees. He sees this position as an opportunity to voice the students’ concerns and fight for changes that the students want to see.
Beyond the campus, Daud has used internships to improve his leadership skills and his ability to bring change. In the summer of 2014, he traveled back home to Afghanistan for the first time since he came to America in 2010. There he started an internship with the nonprofit organization Welfare Association for the Development of Afghanistan (WADAN). In Afghan villages, girls are not allowed to go to school, and women do not have the same rights as men. To help these women and girls, Daud co-directed a project that brought the village elders to the provincial capital to educate them about women’s rights as well as the importance of educating girls.
To educate the village elders, Daud’s project integrated religion into the workshops about women’s rights. Daud selected verses from the Quran and used the Prophet’s message of equality and the importance of education to show the elders that the education of women and girls is not in conflict with their religion. However, during the workshops, Daud began to face resistance from the elders. Because the participants knew he studied in America, they told him that he was “westernized” and called him an “American spy.” They believed he was trying to teach them things that were against their religion.
Despite the challenges he faced, Daud decided to try to finish the project. However, his father cut his stay short when a threatening letter was thrown into their house. After he was back in America, a second letter with the same threat was thrown into his family’s house. Both letters were from the Taliban — the reason Daud’s family will not let him come home during breaks.
The Translated Letter from the Taliban:
“The Islamic Emirates of Mujahedeen conveys greetings. A boy named Daud Baz, who has been studying in the United States has returned for some time. He lives in Kabul and is known to be spying for the USA. The Emirates orders all the Emirates Mujahedeen to find the boy and punish him for treason and please report to us (the Emirates) after he has been punished for treason. Signed, the Taliban.”
Daud says, “This letter revolves over my head like a curse and restricts me to just America. I want to go back over breaks, visit family, see my parents and siblings, and do something for my country, but unfortunately, I can’t go back.”
Although Daud is unable to go back to Afghanistan, he is still doing what he can to make a difference. In order to improve relations between the United States and Afghanistan, he worked as an accounting and finance intern for the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, DC, from June to August 2016. In this position, he helped track payroll and expenses, created finance schedules, prepared end-of-quarter reports and translated contracts. He also planned the Independence Day program for Afghans in the greater D.C. area.
Daud will graduate from OWU in May with a BA in accounting. Since it is too dangerous to go home after his graduation, he plans to work in the American accounting industry for a few years before going back to Afghanistan. He said, “Afghanistan is my home, and I want to make a difference. I know that I am unable to change the entire country overnight, but I do know I can make a positive impact. One quote that I live by is ‘Little drops of water make the ocean big’, and I want to be one of those little drops.”