By Sadaf Sajwani, Director of partnerships at an education nonprofit – 02/01/2017
On Sunday as my family and I entered Battery Park, I was overcome by my emotions. I felt like we were walking down the red carpet and everyone was cheering our names. This was the first time that I personally experienced a largely non-Muslim crowd speaking out for the rights of my community. I was touched and taken aback by the realization that the America I grew up in was indeed a different America than the next generation of Muslims will grow up in.
I was in elementary school when the U.S. launched its first war with Iraq. Classmates called me Sadam instead of Sadaf… why not since it was just the change of one letter? They asked if Sadam was my uncle. If we were related. Then in middle school our teacher turned on the news so we could follow live what was happening with the Oklahoma City bombings. Classmates turned around and called me a terrorist. When asked where I was from, I always said Pakistan, never America (even though I was born in Florida!), because I didn’t feel like I belonged. (Of course back then no one knew where Pakistan was ― India’s neighbor I would say and then get an “Ohhh ok” response with a still puzzled look). Whenever I went to school with henna on my hands classmates stayed away from me thinking I had a disease.
Read more at the source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/finally-feeling-at-home_us_589212bee4b02772c4ea9282
Sadaf Sajwani is a social impact leader, relationship builder and changemaker. She has led projects in the areas of education, technology and international development in the US and globally. Sadaf was born and raised in Miami, FL. She earned her BA in International Relations from Tufts University and her Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). Currently, Sadaf is the Director of Partnerships at an education nonprofit in New York City.
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