Final Celebration: A Generation Redefining Identity and Success by Neghena Hamidi

A mentor and mentee relationship is never one sided. The mentor learns a lot from her mentee just as the mentee learns a lot from her mentor. The WISE Mentee Muslimah Final Celebration kicked off at the MAS Youth Center with different regional groups color coding in their attire. As you walked into the room there was a huge vibe of excitement from all these girls. You had cheers, selfies, and wide smiles from a young group of girls excited to start the final celebration. Looking at these girls, you see an actual sisterhood and to be honest, when I was around that age that was so rare to find.

There was never really a sisterhood, especially amongst Muslim girls. If anything, many tried to assimilate with groups other than their own to give their existence more of a validation. It was a shock to me to see a genuine bond between girls of the same faith who were comfortable in their own skin.

 “The WISE event was an inspirational way to see the female Muslim youth empowered by each other. Each branch of young adults had just completed the program and they grew so close over time. As a future mentor, it was a real treat to see the way these women built off of each other's skills and friendships,” explained Noor Ismail, a former mentee and mentor.

This is what WISE is about. Developing these relationships with the leadership opportunities it presents. Growing up, I never had the confidence these girls had. And if I ever did, I never fully attached my Muslim identity to it.  You see, it’s like a revolution, a new era, to see girls from the age of 13-18 be proud of their faith and maximize their goals without minimizing their identity.

WISE partnered with K-Sultana this year, a social business that addresses discomfort caused by hot temperatures Muslim women experience from wearing hijab. The girls learned public speaking skills, financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills. Most importantly, the girls learned it is possible to be innovative when having confidence in your culture, circumstances and faith. Nothing is a barrier, not even a headscarf.

Acting as another inspiration was Tahsina Ahmed, a Bangladeshi American, elected as a council woman in the city of Haledon, New Jersey, who was also the main speaker for the motivational event. Tahsina during the event explained her story as well as how her background played a part in her success.

The final celebration did celebrate the development of a group of young girls and serve as an inspiration for all those involved. Must most importantly it was a mark as to what this new generation seeks to newly define. There is success in reclaiming your identity as a Muslim woman.