The Past and the Future

It has been a while.  This last school year was my roughest yet, and I had to turn my focus to my classes.  My attention could not be towards anything else.  During the first week of the summer I was still studying, however, that was only for a couple of SAT Subject Tests. Now my summer is truly beginning.  All of that is done now and I am ready to get back into my writing.

First off, I would like to give a shout out to my professor from the University of Chicago and a dear friend of mine, Dr. Michael Subialka. Earlier this year, he had emailed me explaining that as he was going through old files in preparation for his next class, he stumbled upon my blog. He had told me that he was glad and excited for me as I was getting more involved in the political process and hoped that I was continuing my writing and sharing my experiences. This simple message really hit home for me.  It made me take a step back and appreciate that others were noticing what I was doing. To know that one of my mentors and an individual that I admire so greatly was commending me for my work was truly humbling.

To be in a position to volunteer for political campaigns and meet my local, state and national leaders has been eye-opening and educational. I know I am quite fortunate.  These experiences require putting in the effort and the drive so you can benefit from the experience and knowledge you receive. To be completely honest, I have not been putting in the necessary work towards those endeavors lately. Things were popping up during the school year and extracurriculars continued to impede any progress I made. But one thing Dr. Subialka has reminded me of is that writing of any kind is something you can truly make your own.

So with this, I would like to explain what the future holds for the Muslim Moderate. I plan to attend the ISNA Convention again this year and bring more content such as interviews and my thoughts on speakers and lectures I attend. I also plan on staying updated on my work in the political field, specifically with the new Mayor of Rockford, Tom McNamara. And of course, I hope to continue to share my thoughts on the world and any ideas I have to make it a better place.

Thank you to all of those who have shown continued support in my absence.

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What it means to be politically active

I have had the opportunity to volunteer in a campaign again. The mayoral election for Rockford is coming up and I have been canvassing for Tom McNamara, the Democratic candidate.

This is the second time I have given my time to a political campaign. Although I am only a teenager, I think I have had some meaningful experiences.

But what do these experiences mean? How is knocking on doors helping someone like me? The youth are the future. Everybody knows this, yet our nation’s government has seemed to have forgotten the important needs and wants of young people. We, the youth, as a demographic, need to start becoming more politically active and making our voices heard. And although I am guilty of this myself, we need to stop arguing amongst ourselves, hidden behind our laptops and on Facebook. Sharing things and spreading information is great, don’t get me wrong, but when we actually go out into the streets as a unit and fight for what we believe in, then we can affect change.

It all starts with grassroots campaigning and local activism. Going from door to door. Getting into contact with your local officials. Making phone calls. Writing letters. Protesting injustice. Doing these things may not seem like a lot in the beginning, but when the movement begins to grow and take shape, our voices can be heard.

 

I want to share what I have been doing with my time in campaign work. The gentleman I worked with today explained it in a few simple steps. If you are ever working on a campaign, you need to start building lists of people you need to establish contact with. This means researching their voting history, party identification and any other information relevant to a campaign. Next, you start going to the streets and actually getting into contact with the voters. When you are first starting out, you want to target people who are on the fence or undecided on who to vote for in whatever election is currently happening. The hope is to persuade those folks to vote for the candidate you are advocating for. Finally, you encourage people to get out and vote. This means making sure all of the constituents are still in support of your candidate and telling them to go to polling places to cast their ballot on election day.

The political work I have done has truly been eye-opening for me. I have interacted with friendly, enthusiastic people and those who are not interested in the election process at all. It gives me a genuine feel for how the political process works for us all. I  want to go into this field when I am older and hope to make a name for myself.  This is simply a step in that direction.

Lastly, I want to share my feelings on why being politically active is important. Many people nowadays are unhappy with how the country is being run, especially with Agent Orange at the helm. What I want people to know is that you can be proactive and have your voice be heard. I am a fifteen year old brown kid living in Rockford, Illinois and I try to get my voice out there. You can, too.

 

Representative Bustos Internship

img_7513I was very fortunate this summer and fall to be an intern for Congresswoman Bustos and help in her re-election campaign for the United States Congress. The political experience I have gained has given me new insight into how our country operates, as well as what other people in my community think about this election. My work for the campaign included making phone calls to constituents and canvassing local neighborhoods. I enjoyed the canvassing the most. The work allowed me to explore parts of Rockford I wouldn’t normally enter, as well as meet interesting people and hear their thoughts and ideas on the election. I also had the opportunity to work alongside some great people me who have become my good friends. It is kind of cool to note that I was the youngest intern working for the office.

I actually have a pretty funny story I would like to share. One day, I was at school eating lunch with my friends. My cell phone rang and the caller ID said unknown caller. Normally, I would never answer a call like this but for some reason this time I decided to pick it up. Much to my surprise, Representative Bustos was on the other end. She called to thank me for the support and help with the campaign. It was probably one of the coolest experiences I have gone through.

I even got the chance to formally meet and talk to her. Dr. Muhammad Harunani and his family, good friends of my family and fellow Muslims in the Rockford community, and also the ones that got me in contact with the campaign in the first place, are strong supporters of Representative Bustos. They hosted a dinner at their home for her where she came to speak and meet members of the Muslim community. While I was there, Dr. Harunani properly introduced me to her and we had a nice conversation about the work I had been doing for the campaign. That experience is definitely something I will remember for a long time.

Becoming an intern for a campaign has been one of the best opportunities I have has thus far. The experiences I had and the people I met have impacted me greatly as a person and I will always be thankful for that. I highly recommend going into any political work possible. Being able to share ideas and meet like-minded people has helped me become the politically involved, passionate person I am today.