Hania Ghazi is a student at Wayne State University where she is part of buildON and Half the Sky. Read on to find out more about Hania, why she's joining MCC2014, and how you can be part of the movement.
As part of buildOn, Hania helped raise over $4,000 to help build a school in Nicaragua. Two of the underclassmentfrom the student organization will be leaving this summer to go to the village and help build the school. Some of the events they did in order to raise the money were a used dress drive through Modavive, a used book drive, selling fair trade Nicaraguan coffee, tutoring, bake sales, volunteering at local Detroit organizations, and more. With Half the Sky, Hania and a group of friends funded the organization on campus. Being a group of Pakistani Muslim women, they were immensely moved by Malala in late 2012 and soon after that they were deeply inspired by the documentary Half the Sky. It was then that they learned about the campus ambassador program. By the fall of 2013, they were ready to go and were approved as a student organization on campus. They had many events, starting with a screening of the documentary, followed by a stimulating panel discussion where they invited several different panelists, including the head of the gender studies program, the CEO of local women's organization, Alternatives for Girls, an anthropology professor, and more. They came up with discussion questions to help guide the dialogue. They partnered with the organization Buy the Change, which helped them raise money for the Edna Adan Foundation and support fair trade artisan products made by women in developing nations. They have hosted guest speakers such as Benish Irfan from Northwest Frontier.
In addition, they also held the event "International Women's Day Celebration" where people dressed up as inspirational women or men. The event had several other student organizations focused on various causes (from global medicine to sexual harassment) partner with them to put together the event. As a guest speaker, they hosted a woman who had been part of the Alternatives for Girls shelter as a young woman herself and is now one of the program directors. Lastly, they also conducted one school visit in Western High School in Detroit and one visit to the girls at the Alternative for Girls prevention program. There, they showed part of the Half the Sky documentary and held workshops and discussions with the students where they discussed on how to make an impact with the issues at hand. Hania notes that it was a huge learning experience for her to see how passionate and bright some of the high school students were and how sad it was to see some students, some girls as young as 13 and 14 that were already acutely aware of the sexualization and objectification of women in the media.
On why she wants to join MCC2014: "My goal in life is embodied by the essence of this conference. I am an anthropology major, a bio minor and a pre- med student. Ever since I have been a child I have been so hungry for knowledge regarding all sorts of things. I was always fascinated by geography, which lead me to learning about the cultures and history of different countries. I loved American history and European history, since that is what I was exposed to in grade school. I devoured historical fiction or biographical novels since I was very little where I felt I could live through the experiences of a young girl in Afghanistan, or a child soldier in Sierra Leone. In middle school I finally went to Pakistan for the first time and I was alarmed yet very stimulated by the things I saw. The culture was exciting and different but the poverty was heartbreaking. I would notice things that other people in my family never noticed, such as the treatment of domestic servants, some of which were my age and working in the homes of the upper class rather than going to school! As I grew older my mind was greatly cultivated by the IB history teachers at my International School. They were amazing teachers and I got interested in international issues, peace and conflict studies and historiography. At this time I also got involved in buildOn which was the first time I ever really did anything outside of my comfort zone. It was not just reading a book, it was doing the actual thing. I volunteered at food banks, rehab shelters for people who are addicted to drugs and more. I also helped raise over $30,000 dollars to help build a school in Nicaragua and I also got the opportunity to go to the village and build a school. At the age of 16, and experience like that has an enormous impact in cementing ones personality and views of the world. BuildOn taught me to always yearn to make a difference and have a passion and fervor for it. I became vice president of the Muslim Student Organization during my last year in high school. It was a very large and powerful organization on campus. Through it, we were able to raise over $40,000 for flood victims in Pakistan, over 1000 cans for the food bank and over $40,000 at our annual fundraising dinner for Hassan Foundation to help build water filtration systems in Pakistan. This passion only continued through college and I realized no matter what I do , I want it to be something that helps others, specifically something in "international development". At the same time though, being a Muslim American and having grown up with people constantly having assumptions about who I am without even getting to know me and patronizing my culture and religion in the name of "helping my people", I realized that whatever I do I need to do it with some degree of cultural relativism. Any type of aid work without humility, cultural relativism, compassion and respect for the people you are helping is useless. This is one of the reasons I majored in anthropology and I think it really adds a very important grounding in any future work I may do in International Development. I really think a conference like this will really help me to develop a better understanding from experts in the field on how to go about making a difference and hone any skills I may already have. I am also a huge fan of Dr. Paul Farmer and also Nicholas Kristof and it would be a dream come true to hear them speak!"
Hania, as well as many other student leaders from across the globe, will be joining us this October 10-12th, 2014 at the 6th Annual Millennium Campus Conference. There, they and other students will be exchanging ideas and talking about how to achieve the UN Millennium Goals. in addition, everyone will be able to attend keynote speeches by influential global leaders such as Nicholas Kristof, Dr. Paul Farmer, among others. Apply now!