2020 is set to be the biggest year yet for the Muslim American Journeys project. MALA's team is hard at work in Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C. collecting the stories of American Muslims, and archiving oral histories. These stories illuminate the diversity within American Muslim communities, and showcase the range of contributions that Muslims continue to make to society every day. Take, for example, one of our newest storytellers, Amir Badr, the CEO of Upkey:
"I came to Chicago in May, so when it was still winter. I remember I wanted to cry on the inside because I couldn’t communicate with people. And it felt so bad not being able to ask questions due to being so shy. Part of the shyness was cultural, but part of it was also because I was just new. It was an incredible feeling though to be like oh my god I made it! But then also realizing that oh my god I made it but I don’t know what to do now! I remember looking around at people and thinking that everything was so beautiful, everyone was kind of free and everyone was doing their own thing. Even though I was very scared and nervous, it felt like I was in pain. Deep deep down, I had this new hope that I am in the right place and that even though I’m about to cry now I am going to figure this out.
This was definitely a personal and passion kind of driven idea for me, everyone else that is at the Upkey family, you know we have grown the team to twenty-plus people now and we are just getting started. So, I don’t see this being a mere venture because I think there is an underdog in all of us. We all want to see a hard worker whether they are a student or professional, get the chance they deserve."
MALA has collected and archived hundreds of unique success stories like Amir's. We are currently working to expand the Muslim American Journeys project even further by developing more multimedia approaches to storytelling. With your support MALA can continue to collect and share these incredible stories. Our journey has just begun.
As 2019 draws to a close, MALA is finishing up a year of tremendous growth and expansion. At the forefront of this growth is the Muslim American Journeys project, which has increased by nearly 20 percent this year, to include even more stories of Muslim American triumphs, struggles, and journeys across the United States.
The reach of the Journeys project is growing at a national level: in October, MALA leadership was invited to present on MALA's oral history project at the Annual meeting of the Oral History Association for the second consecutive year, alongside representatives from the National Library of Congress, the Veterans History Project, and others.
This month, MALA also opened applications for our annual scholarship program. This program is open to all American residents over the age of 18 who are pursuing a higher education and who have a story to tell. We are honored to assist aspiring young leaders access higher education, and are excited to read and share the incredible stories they submit.
As Giving Tuesday approaches, we hope you will consider supporting the Muslim American Journeys project, to help MALA find, record, produce, and share more incredible stories of Muslims in the United States.
This Summer, the Muslim American Journeys project continued to grow, and expand its reach to Muslim communities across the country. To date, MALA has collected over 500 stories from a diverse array of Muslim Americans, including: entrepreneurs, community leaders, elected officials, artists, philanthropists, and creative minds from all disciplines.
The Muslim American Journeys project began with the vision of creating a platform for American Muslims to share their stories in their own words and on their own terms. The project is open to anyone who identifies as Muslim, or as having Muslim heritage to share their stories, and have their experiences archived in the National Library of Congress.
In 2019, the Muslim American Journeys project has continued to grow and expand, representing the vibrancy and diversity of Muslim journeys in the United States. Since thebeginning of the year our story collection has grown significantly, with nearly thirty new stories; among these new storytellers are Laleh Bakhtiar, the first woman to publish an English translation of the Qur’an, along with many other unique and fascinating individuals. MALA’s story archive also includes recently-added stories from the inaugural cohort of the Young Leaders Fellowship. These are stories of dynamic and ambitious young leaders in Muslim American communities; the perspectives and thoughtfulness in their stories reflect the values that MALA is founded on.
Part of what contributes to the success and growth of the Muslim American Journeys project is MALA’s ambition to explore and engage with new communities. This year, MALA is seeking to build roots in the New Orleans community; On February 18th, MALA Hosted a discussion and book signing with historian Dr. Ibrahima Seck in honor of Black History Month. Dr. Seck is the director of research at the Whitney Plantation, and author of the new book, Bouki Fait Gombo. It was an honor to work with Dr. Seck for this event, and we were pleased to host a diverse, inquisitive, and energetic audience. In anticipation of this event MALA received a letter of recognition from the office of LaToya Cantrell, the Mayor of New Orleans praising the organization’s work and welcoming MALA to the community. We are humbled by this recognition, and excited to continue to create networks of creative expression in the New Orleans area.
Currently, we are continuing the important work of expanding the Muslim American Journeysproject to share our platform with new communities and individuals across the country. In order to do this, it is crucial that MALA has the resources to source, collect, process, and publish the stories of Muslims in America. Your contributions help us to reach new communities, offer better resources, and continue to bring creative and accessible programming to American Muslims nationwide.
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