NYC Leadership Fellow, Thasfia Chowdhury, Reflects on her WISE Experience

WISE, Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment, is a bold step toward educating powerful Muslims of our future. Dedicated to uplifting and uniting the Muslim diaspora, community activist, Rana Abdelhamid is revolutionizing the lives of young Muslim women through an intensive summer of self-defense, leadership, and entrepreneurship. In this program, entitled Mentee Muslima, young women invoke themselves on a self-transformation in which they evolve into stronger persons, while continuously building the immense character and modesty unique to Muslims.

    With the program divided up into sections for the mentees’ safe and convenient accessibility to their respective boroughs, the program is heavily dependant on its facilitators to coordinate smoothly and efficiently. As facilitators, our jobs are tedious: we are responsible for asking open ended, unbiased questions to get our girls thinking on their own terms, teaching them proper self-defense moves, and validating their narratives. While the task is a laborious one, it is one of the most validating. With each young mentee comes a vivid story that makes our girls the real stars at WISE. Their hunger for betterment is the driving force that has allowed for our success, and because of them we are able to acknowledge the spectrum of Muslims that exist in our communities. It is because of programs like WISE that conversations condemned as “taboo” are igniting fiercely and brilliantly.

At WISE, redefining feminism and womanhood means being able to radiate with good intentions and a willingness for betterment. We empower and illuminate each other. I am thankful every single day.