Young Leaders Institute 2018–2019

Meet the 2018–2019 YLI cohort!
“Build­ing Com­mu­ni­ty Defense”

The 2018–2019 Young Lead­ers Insti­tute (YLI) theme was Com­mu­ni­ty Defense, and projects will take on anti-immi­grant poli­cies and hate vio­lence. Shared below are project descrip­tions from this year’s cohort.

Apoorva Handigol: My project will stem from my senior the­sis research on how antiblack­ness and Black-Brown sol­i­dar­i­ty have man­i­fest­ed over gen­er­a­tions of South Asian Amer­i­cans in Chica­go. I will start with orga­niz­ing a col­lab­o­ra­tive event at my school focus­ing on nar­ra­tives of pain and love among South Asian and Black Amer­i­cans. After this, I will take the project to my com­mu­ni­ty in the Bay Area and reframe this com­mu­ni­ty need as one of sup­port for a group of peo­ple who has gone through much the same as we have, plus oth­er injus­tices we have the priv­i­lege to for­get. I will trans­late what I learned from the event on cam­pus and my research into address­ing my South Asian community’s antiblack­ness, lack of aware­ness of our 150+ years of Black sol­i­dar­i­ty, and need to strength­en our com­mu­ni­ty defense.

 

Farishtay Yamin: My pro­pos­al cen­ters around cre­at­ing a rapid response sys­tem to ICE activ­i­ty and hate crimes using an app. I would like to use the exist­ing mem­ber base and net­work present in Athens, GA to dupli­cate the mod­el in Nashville, TN.

 

 

Hiba Ahmad: My project is to cre­ate a finan­cial lit­er­a­cy pro­gram for prison inmates in aims to reduce recidi­vism rates around the Unit­ed States, which is main­ly caused by lack of attain­able finan­cial edu­ca­tion and resources. US pris­ons
dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly tar­get peo­ple of col­or, so the suc­cess­ful
imple­men­ta­tion of this pro­gram will hope­ful­ly pro­tect our com­mu­ni­ties of col­or against fur­ther unjust detain­ment, and arm them with the edu­ca­tion nec­es­sary to com­bat the dif­fi­cul­ty of reen­ter­ing the work­force.

Mahi Senthikumar: I will explore the inter­sec­tions of rights and reli­gion through a series of pub­lic talks and YouTube videos. By cre­at­ing inter­faith forums to dis­cuss
reli­gion along­side activism, I hope to break down social bar­ri­ers with­in our com­mu­ni­ty and uncov­er shared val­ues which com­pel us to stand togeth­er for jus­tice.

 

 

Meghal Sheth: For my project I will be work­ing to co-pro­gram with oth­er cul­tur­al and iden­ti­ty- based groups on Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty in St. Louis’ cam­pus to cre­ate a “Jus­tice Through Free­dom” Week. The week will include a vig­il, call-in, pan­el dis­cus­sion on com­mu­ni­ty defense, and a gala with oth­er var­i­ous stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions.

 

Myra Khushbakht: For my project, I plan to cre­ate an open dis­cus­sion town hall event at Howard in the com­ing aca­d­e­m­ic year. I hope to ini­ti­ate a con­ver­sa­tion about col­orism with­in minori­ties on my cam­pus.

 

 

Naisa Rahman: My com­mu­ni­ty defense project will focus on improv­ing my university’s report­ing and response sys­tem for bias, dis­crim­i­na­tion, and harass­ment. My goal is for our insti­tu­tion to respond time­ly to stu­dents and to bet­ter sup­port them dur­ing any crises.

 

 

Sarah Rozario: Sarah hopes to cre­ate a video com­posed of her cam­pus com­mu­ni­ty’s immi­grant and undoc­u­ment­ed voic­es address­ing anti-immi­gra­tion poli­cies. The project will pro­vide a space for stu­dents to voice their con­cerns as well as act as a dis­play of sup­port.

 

 

Vrinda Trivedi: Com­ing from Ohio, I think sub­ur­ban and rur­al loca­tions are sore­ly over­looked in regards to being seen as spaces con­ducive to com­mu­ni­ty build­ing. There­fore, I would like to find a way to con­nect LGBTQIA+ South Asians, through host­ing a retreat sim­i­lar to YLI, but on a small­er scale, and geared towards address­ing the unique themes faced by LGBTQIA+ South Asians in sub­ur­ban and rur­al spaces.

 

Yasmine Jafery: My project is cre­at­ing an on cam­pus club that pro­vides a safe space for peers to talk to one anoth­er about dif­fi­cult things they are going through. This club would pro­vide strug­gling stu­dents a place to meet and learn from their peers that are fight­ing sim­i­lar obsta­cles.

 

 

Neha Valmiki: Neha will have a ses­sion on her cam­pus called Break­ing Bar­ri­ers, where will bring in speak­ers to talk about men­tal health in the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty and the
neces­si­ty for civic engage­ment. The goal is to break the stig­ma of men­tal health and to break the idea that your vote does­n’t count. Her goal is it make sure each stu­dents knows that they have a voice and they are valid.

 

Rupkatha Banarjee: Sum­mits and con­fer­ences often attract large audi­ences and trans­mit mes­sages of sup­port and aware­ness through­out the com­mu­ni­ty. In lieu of stu­dent involve­ment and increased par­tic­i­pa­tion, I aim to orga­nize a TEDx type con­fer­ence with mul­ti­ple speak­ers to expli­cate sto­ries of immi­grants who’ve expe­ri­enced tar­get­ed racial vio­lence.

 

Jaspreet Kaur: Brown Girl Joy [an IG plat­form] explores the inter­sec­tions of beau­ty one brown girl [includ­ing gen­der non con­form­ing + non­bi­na­ry per­son] at a time. We hope to recon­struct par­a­digms of beau­ty to be more inclu­sive and accept­ing for peo­ple of col­or.

 

 

Sana Hamed: I pro­pose to start SEMS (Shar­ing Every Mus­lims’ Sto­ry), an ini­tia­tive that would serve to unite Mus­lim orga­ni­za­tions on cam­pus through the com­mon thread of sto­ry­telling. The project would include var­i­ous ways to put a pos­i­tive spot­light on who Mus­lims are in Amer­i­ca and would include cre­at­ing short nar­ra­tive videos to be shared through social media, writ­ten fea­tures for an anthol­o­gy, and even a show­case fea­tur­ing Mus­lim cre­atives through which we could fur­ther engage the com­mu­ni­ty.

 

 

For more infor­ma­tion around Young Lead­ers Insti­tute, fol­low SAALT on Twit­ter at @SAALTweets, or con­tact Almas Haider at almas@saalt.org