Farmingdale Senior Speaks at UN

Rebecca Williamson , Co-Editor in Chief

In our school, there are many student accomplishments that fly under the radar. On Tuesday October 11, one of our own seniors, Urooba Abid, was given the honor to speak at the United Nations. She is very active within our school community. Her devotion to Girls Learn International, an organization dedicated to providing equal opportunities for all genders, specifically in education, was one of the reasons she attended the Girls Speak Out Event at the United Nations for the past couple of years. This year, all of her hard work helped her be chosen to speak at the conference. “Last year, I attended and helped organize an anti-terror peace rally in Times Square with fellow Muslims in the community, and shared my experience with the Girls Learn Regional Advisory Board. The rally sparked ideas among the Girls Learn staff and led to the idea to have a webinar learn-in on the topic of Islamophobia, and I was invited to be a guest speaker. This year, Girls Learn International was able to pick one girl activist to represent them at the Annual Girls Speak Out Event in the United Nations. Because of my previous work with the organization as well as my work with Islamophobia, I was put on the shortlist. After a long phone interview, they offered me the chance to speak at the event and represent Girls Learn International. When I found out, I was incredibly surprised but also grateful and excited,” says Urooba. U.N. The school has also been involved with helping Girls Learn fundraise money. “[Girls Learn International] has chapters throughout the nation…Farmingdale’s own chapter has annual fundraisers, such as the Coffee House Night and Volleyball Tournament, which raises more than a thousand dollars for partner schools every year,” says Urooba.

Urooba took her invitation to speak seriously because she knew that she had personal goals to achieve. “I approached this opportunity as an incredible way to share my voice and hopefully bring awareness to an issue that plagues Muslim girls around the world. So many people are still so unaware of the issue of Islamophobia and it frightens me to see that the problems Muslims in this country face are only increasing. I hoped that with my speech I was able to represent my fellow Muslim community in a positive way…. the most important thing for me to do was properly represent the unique problems Muslim girls are facing, and I feel that my speech did a good job of vocalizing those issues,” says Urooba. Aside from her personal goals, she wants the world to understand the Islamic culture and learn about the struggles Muslims, specifically women, face in countries around the world. “I spoke about how the recent growth of Islamophobia in America as well as other western nations is harming Muslim girls. Unfortunately, Muslim girls are often judged under misleading stereotypes, and are assumed to be oppressed and submissive when in many circumstances that isn’t the case. I also talked about how misrepresentation of Muslim girls in the media perpetuates stigmatizations and leads to misunderstandings from the general public. Many Americans are misinformed about the true meaning of Islam and the real purpose behind practices like the wearing of a burqa or hijab. In my speech I mentioned my personal experiences with Islamophobia and how these experiences have helped me realize the need for better education on the religion of Islam. I posed solutions to this problem by proposing the creation of a toolkit, with help of Girls Learn International, that will contain various viewpoints by Muslim girls from both eastern and western nations,” she says.

Urooba’s speech impressed the Farmingdale community members that were there to support her and many others at the United Nations. “After my speech, a muslim woman who immigrated from Afghanistan came up to me in tears and thanked me for sharing my story and explaining our perspective to the people in the room. Her words made me feel unbelievably happy because they helped me realize the significance of the work that I was doing, and made me feel even more honored for the opportunity to speak on behalf of Muslim girls around the globe,” Urooba exclaims. The rest of our community certainly feels the same way. We are proud of Urooba and the accomplishments of the many other students that go unnoticed. “I felt extremely honored to be able to speak on such an incredible platform. I’ve always been in awe of the United Nations and all that it represents, so to be able to speak inside of it was truly a dream come true. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”


***Photo courtesy of Urooba Abid