Combating Islamophobia — SAALT welcomes the 2017–2018 Young Leaders Institute cohort

From July 19–21, SAALT wel­comed the 2017–2018 class of the Young Lead­ers Insti­tute (YLI) at a con­ven­ing in Sil­ver Spring, Mary­land. This year marks the sixth cohort of young adults SAALT has trained in lead­er­ship skills for social change on cam­pus and in our com­mu­ni­ties. The 2017–2018 cohort includes 16 out­stand­ing, diverse youth who have devel­oped cre­ative and thought­ful projects focused on this year’s theme of Com­bat­ing Islam­o­pho­bia in South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties and broad­ly through civic engage­ment.

Fol­low­ing a com­pet­i­tive appli­ca­tion process, YLI Fel­lows took part in a three-day train­ing work­shop where they learned the his­to­ry of immi­gra­tion and Islam­o­pho­bia in Amer­i­ca, built orga­niz­ing and direct action skills, con­nect­ed with activists and men­tors, and explored social change strate­gies around issues that affect South Asian and immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties in the Unit­ed States. Learn more about each Fel­low’s respec­tive YLI project here. See pic­tures from the con­ven­ing here.

SAALT is thank­ful to the train­ers who pro­vid­ed vital insights at the YLI con­ven­ing, includ­ing Dr. Maha Hilal (Insti­tute for Pol­i­cy Stud­ies); Ter­ri John­son (Cen­ter for New Com­mu­ni­ty); Noor Mir (D.C. Jus­tice for Mus­lims Coali­tion); and Darak­shan Raja (Wash­ing­ton Peace Cen­ter).

“I had an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence at YLI,” stat­ed Shilpa, one of SAALT’s YLI Fel­lows. “I met a great com­mu­ni­ty of South Asians com­mit­ted to social jus­tice and com­bat­ing var­i­ous forms of oppres­sion in the com­mu­ni­ty.  I also heard from amaz­ing orga­niz­ers who taught us about direct action, the his­to­ry of the war on ter­ror, and how we can move for­ward with­in our com­mu­ni­ties.  Going for­ward I want to car­ry all that knowl­edge with me back to George­town and build com­mu­ni­ties of South Asians com­mit­ted to social jus­tice on my cam­pus.”

Check out this video on Islam­o­pho­bia and how the Young Lead­ers Insti­tute empow­ers young peo­ple to com­bat it on cam­pus and in their com­mu­ni­ties.

Sania, anoth­er YLI Fel­low, not­ed, “The rea­son I took part in the Young Lead­ers Insti­tute is because when I’m old­er I want to be involved in com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­ing. YLI was the per­fect first step in find­ing my way there.”

Rakin, a YLI Fel­low who will work to repeal House Bill 522, an anti-Sharia leg­is­la­tion in North Car­oli­na, stat­ed, “Through YLI, I was able to gain access to edu­ca­tion­al resources that helped con­tex­tu­al­ize what it means to be a South Asian in Amer­i­ca. YLI helped me under­stand the broad­er his­to­ry and dynam­ics of the South Asian Amer­i­can iden­ti­ty.”

SAALT would like to thank our sup­port­ers and donors who make the Young Lead­ers Insti­tute pos­si­ble, and to our YLI Fel­lows, who are the lead­ers of tomor­rowand who inspire us with their com­mit­ment to tak­ing on Islam­o­pho­bia on cam­pus­es and in com­mu­ni­ties.

Please con­sid­er mak­ing a gen­er­ous dona­tion to SAALT. Your help will ensure that the Young Lead­ers Insti­tute con­tin­ues to train tomor­row’s lead­ers today, for a more jus­tice and inclu­sive soci­ety for all Amer­i­cans.

In part­ner­ship,
The SAALT Team