Meet the Oral Historians
The stories in This Is Where I Need To Be were collected and compiled by the following high school oral historians:
Amna Ahmad is a seventeen-year-old Arab American of Palestinian ancestry in the 11th grade at a high school in Manhattan.
"While I am a Muslim student myself, the stories we gathered at the culmination of this project reveal to me for the first time a certain degree of boundlessness among Muslim youth as they search for their Islamic identities in the United States."
Omar Ahmad is a fifteen-year-old Arab American of Palestinian ancestry in the 10th grade at a high school in Manhattan.
"I fully embraced this opportunity to give voice to a group of individuals whose views and lives are often misunderstood and neglected by many in America today-Muslim youth."
Sadia Khan is a sixteen-year-old South Asian American student of Pakistani ancestry in the 11th grade at a high school in Queens.
"Many Muslims are intimidated to speak out and express their ideas for fear of being persecuted in grocery stores, schools, malls, or of even being detained and sent to jail. I hope we can bring change with this book and impact people's lives. I would like it to change the vilification of Muslims. I want the world to be a peaceful place, not just for Muslims, but for every person who follows a religion."
Faatimah Knight is a sixteen-year-old Caribbean American student in the 10th grade at a high school in Brooklyn.
"The interview helped me level two important aspects of my life: my religion and individuality, two things that at times may seem in opposition to each other. It felt reassuring to talk to a Muslim who, like myself, struggles to harmonize religion and New York City where the lights are bright and the temptations easily satisfied."
Abdulla Mohamed is a sixteen-year-old Arab American student born in Yemen who is in the 11th grade at a high school in the Bronx.
"Being part of this book is one of the biggest turning points of my life. I hope with this book Muslims will be treated equally and not be recognized as different people."
Murtaza Munir is an eighteen-year-old South Asian American student of Pakistani ancestry born in Kuwait. He is in the 12th grade at a high school in Brooklyn.
"Last year around the same time period I was just a regular student in an urban high school in Brooklyn, but today I am an oral historian as well as a published author. As I sat down to put these stories together, it came to my attention that I have been through some similar situations at some points in my life."
Kenan Shabiu is an eighteen-year-old American student born in Kosovo. He is in the 12th grade at a high school in the Bronx.
"This project can help everyone know more about the lives of Muslim students in schools. It also shows to other people how Muslim students and their families are a part of this city. By sharing the work that we did, this might change the views of people all over the world about Muslims in America."
Husein Yatabarry is a fifteen-year-old Gambian American student in the 10th grade at a high school in the Bronx.
"There are opportunities that you get in life that are very rare. If you happen to pass them up, you'll regret it. This project was one of those opportunities. It shed light on common misconceptions people have about Muslims and provided us with an opportunity to challenge them. The stories of Muslim youth will be part of history and will inform people about the lives of youth who are often not heard in our society."
Quainat Zaman is a fifteen-year-old South Asian American student of Pakistani ancestry in the 10th grade at a high school in Staten Island.
"Something surprising about the project was that I was able to relate to both of my interviewees. I was able to relate with Fanta when she said she does track. Her event is hurdles. I do track, too, and a hurdle is the perfect symbol of the obstacles that we face as young Muslim women.. Before the project, I felt like I was one of the only Muslims to struggle with temptations, but afterwards I realized that I'm not."
Hoda Zawam is a seventeen-year-old Arab American student born in Egypt who is in the 11th grade in Brooklyn.
“My fellow oral historians and I are pleased to share with you, the reader, the real lives and experiences and authentic voices of ordinary Muslim public school students. These stories give a shout out to all the Muslims in public school by telling them to stay strong, continue to believe, and always be proud to be a Muslim.”
Rahimah Ahmad is a sixteen-year-old African American student in the 10th grade at a high school in Manhattan.
"During the interview process. I realized that it's not just people who aren't Muslim who assume things about Muslims. We Muslims do this, too. I really hope this book will demolish many of the common assumptions people make about Muslims-for Muslims and non-Muslims alike."
Ateeyah Khan is a seventeen-year-old Guyanese-born American student in the 12th grade at a high school in Queens.
"As I sat down to put these stories together I realized that so many of us go through the same discrimination, but never had the chance to express ourselves and our emotions. Every story I read or wrote made an impact in my life. Outsiders can relate with the struggle the Muslim youth go through in New York City and that there is no difference between race, sex, and religion."