In an act of compassion, Michigander James Thornberry helped bring a 15-year-old Iraqi girl, Hannan Shihab, to the University’s hospital for treatment of 2nd-and 3rd-degree burns. Thornberry, a father of three girls himself, saw Shihab on CNN after she had been severely burned when the thunder of nearby bombs caused an oil lamp to fall on her. Horrified by what he saw, Thornberry contacted the University’s hospital and his congressman to set in motion a series of events that brought Shihab and her mother here to United States.

Mr. Thornberry should be applauded for his noble efforts. Quite often, it is much easier to dismiss tragedies on TV, but instead, he showed sympathy and kindness for others, which are sometimes put aside as they are often inconvenient. His kindness, along with donations from Northwest Airlines, the University and Arab charitable organizations have given this young girl the hope for a better life.

The University’s efforts in bringing Shihab to the United States should be commended. The University trains its students to be leaders, and it is essential to teach tomorrow’s leaders about compassion and kindness. By using its resources to assist the community, the University has set an example that its students should follow. The University is capable of providing a wide variety of assistance to the local, national and global community. Its medical facilities are among the best in the world – and as the case of Shihab shows – can be used to help those who are unable to receive proper treatment. In addition to great medical facilities, the University has an excellent faculty that could provide expert advice to nations, like Iraq, and the local community, in areas such as urban planning, engineering and business. A greater effort should be made to make these resources more widely available.

Perhaps students do not have the resources or influence that the University has, but nonetheless, they too can make a tremendous impact. Take for example Dance Marathon, which raised more than $197,000 this year to help children in need of rehabilitation. This kind of fundraising and leadership can serve as an example for other students to follow.

Students do not necessarily have to organize events that raise large amounts of money like Dance Marathon. Instead, by providing their time, they can help bring hope and inspiration to the lives of the young, sick and elderly. Students can have an enormous impact, for example, on high school students. High school students look up to those in college, they view college students as their peers, rather than authority figures. Taking a genuine interest in a child’s interests, goals and concerns helps develop a bond that allows a student to guide a child and help him stay dedicated to his studies. Through mentoring and tutoring programs, University students can offer the kind of individual attention that today’s overcrowded schools have trouble providing. It is impossible to bring every injured Iraqi to the United States for medical treatment or to help every person who needs such care; however, the University community has the ability to make a difference in the lives of others and should replace any apathy with the kind of sympathy exhibited by Thornberry. The University community should continue to live up to its mission of serving the people of the state and the world by continuing to reach out and help those in need like Hannan Shihab.

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