In the hospital for frequent checkups after surviving childhood cancer in his native Venezuela, Daniel Simkin found himself answering questions from other young patients — Why me? Will I ever be healthy? Will my hair grow back?
Those were also his questions, he says.
Now cancer-free and a business management student at Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business, Simkin decided to help young adults answer such questions. With the financial support of several foundations, he is this summer publishing “Hope Book” (hopebook.com), an “interactive” diary in English that poses many of the 300 questions he compiled, leaves space for the reader’s answer, and offers some of the answers he has collected.
The book, which he wrote in memory of his childhood best friend who died suddenly of a heart attack in high school, reflects Simkin’s altruistic (for a YU class he founded a charity that sent donated pencils to indigent students in Nigeria) and entrepreneurial (at 16 he became head of a small events-entertainment company, has developed two computer apps, and has founded six companies) bents.
Trying to sell his apps, he’s been turned down dozens of times. He’s not discouraged.
“I never give up,” says Simkin, a day school graduate who survived an attempted kidnapping in which in he was shot twice in the leg at his family’s home in Caracas.
Simkin says his background as a survivor has shaped his attitude. “One hundred percent.”
No language barrier: As part of his process to learn English, Simkin regularly watched episodes of “The Simpsons,” one of his favorite TV shows back in Venezuela. The cartoon gave him a good grasp of colloquial English, he said. Simkin already knows Hebrew and French. Mandarin may be next: He interned in Taiwan last year and started to pick up the Chinese dialect. “I know basic words.”