“We meet our destiny often by ways we take to avoid it.” – La Fontaine.
Hi, could you introduce yourself in a few words?
My name is Hind Bassaj. I am a Kuwaiti national who was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. I am someone who loves to get out of my comfort zone, curious about what the world has to offer. I absolutely love to travel and discover new places, cultures and people. I try to stay positive even when things aren’t really smiling back at me. I like to take care of animals and I would never say no to pizza!
Tell us about your education:
I graduated from school with a French Baccalaureate in Literature. I carried on with a BA in Political Science and a Minor in Communication from the American University of Beirut (AUB). I then pursued a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and my Masters in Law from London.
What is it exactly that you do?
Currently I am working at SSH, an architectural and engineering consultancy firm. My job is to review contracts and agreements. However, I only have a few weeks before leaving my job since I submitted my resignation letter to pursue bigger goals.
What got you interested in what you’re doing?
At school I had a very inspiring history professor who led me to appreciate the topic and got me interested in studying political science. I like analyzing events and putting them into perspective by choosing them as topics to write about. What led me to pursue law was advertising. After graduating from AUB I interned in an advertising company for a month and realized that if I could write briefs about chips and sodas, why not do it for human rights and causes I believe in?
What makes you unique or special in what you are doing?
Whether I am at work or at school or anywhere else, I empathize with others and would always think that if I were in their shoes, this is how I would want to be treated. So when I work on something or help out a friend or colleague, I do it with all my heart as if it were me who was receiving that favour or help.
Tell us your journey to where you have reached today. How was the initial struggle?
It wasn’t always easy to figure out what to do next. After graduating I immediately enrolled in an MA but after interning in the advertising company I realized I had rushed with my choice because it did not really correspond to what I had in mind. I would say that the biggest struggle is the emptiness felt when I don’t have it figured out right after I’ve finished a degree, a job or an internship. Now I am getting a hold of the importance of taking a step back, appreciating what was done in order to keep moving forward instead of simply rushing through these main stages.
How has been the help of your family in what you are doing? Were they supportive since the beginning?
I am very thankful that my family has been supportive since day one. If I had a moment of uncertainty they would comfort me and remind me to follow my ambition no matter where it is. I am lucky to have them around for this kind of encouragement.
Who are your top 3 heroes and why?
Not to sound cliché but my number one hero is my mother. She is with me every step of the way. Even at my lowest moments she gets me back on track and encourages me to keep going. My second hero would be my grandfather, who deceased when I was 14. Sadly, I did not get enough time to really know him while he was alive as he was fighting with Alzheimer’s disease. However, I heard about his achievements from my grandmother and mother. He was a Lebanese politician back in the 50s. He studied law in France and knew how to inspire people through his speeches and writing. Hero number 3 is actually heroes. They are my Palestinian friends whom I met during my studies in London and who are currently living inside the occupied territories. One of them is living in Gaza and the other in the West Bank. For me, these two people are survivors. They did not give up on their cause or their country and put their knowledge into practice in finding a solution.
What are some of the challenges you are facing in your field and how are you overcoming them?
Right now the main challenge I face is the lack of experience in my field. Because I went straight into pursuing my postgraduate studies I did not have the opportunity to gather much on-the-ground experience and in the legal field the more exposure one has the better. However, I try not to get affected by this because when I look back at what I’ve accomplished I am proud of the person I am today and grateful for the knowledge and exposure I received. Experience comes with time and I believe I am on the right path even if it is hard to stay motivated sometimes.
What advice or mentorship made a difference in your career?
Everything happens for a reason. I used to get frustrated if I did not end up where I wanted to be but with time I really learned that sometimes things happen that are beyond our control even though we feel we gave our maximum. So the good advice is to always be the best version of yourself. Do the maximum you can do in that situation and the rest will fall into place to your own benefit.
How would your friends describe you?
They would say I am caring, compassionate, fun to be around and chill.
What are some of your hobbies?
I have a strong passion for dancing. In fact, I even started to teach dance classes in Kuwait for a while. I also enjoy playing tennis, swimming and reading books, mainly French novels.
What are some of your top achievements?
I was chosen to be part of an internship program at the New York State Supreme Court. For me this was like living a dream because New York is a beautiful city full of energy and always buzzing. The opportunity for me to experience it for three months by shadowing a Supreme Court judge was simply outstanding and taught me a lot on a personal level.
I am also proud of completing the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) in London. This diploma is an intensive one-year law degree that is equivalent to three years of law school. It is a program designed for people wanting a career change to become a lawyer in the UK. Apart from the fact that I was adapting to being away from home for the first time, the GDL was extremely tough because the materials were very rich and had to be memorized in such a short amount of time. But it was all worth it.
What are your plans or goals for the future?
Right now I am focused on gaining experience in order to put into practice the knowledge I’ve gained along the way.
How did it feel to be chosen for this award?
I was surprised to have been chosen for this award. It warms my heart to meet people who believe in each other’s potential and, most importantly, who support one another in their journey.
Your message for other young and talented people out there:
Don’t wait around for the moment to happen and do not worry if nothing is making sense at this stage. Instead, embrace the uncertainty and turn it to your advantage by pursuing what you are truly passionate about. Work on developing your career because now is the best time to make a strong impression. And, most importantly, do not lose motivation along the way!
Your favourite quote:
“We meet our destiny often by ways we take to avoid it.” – La Fontaine.
I grew up reading Jean De La Fontaine’s fables. He is a French fabulist and poet. I enjoy his fables because one could extract a lesson from each one of them.
Tell us about a dream that you would like to fulfill or make it a reality:
I would really like to host my own talk-show, to discuss social issues, art, sports, books, etc. Perhaps host inspiring individuals who achieved something particular in their lives and somehow made an impact. To host celebrities, public figures, intellectuals, leaders, creators, etc. For that I would ideally want to have travelled the world or at least a big part of it in order to cover or discuss various countries and expose different cultures on the show.