Husnaa Hashim is a student at Mastery Charter School - Shoemaker Campus. She describes herself as a Muslim, a writer, and a lover of peonies (a type of flower). Husnaa became involved with the Interfaith Center initially as a Walking the Walk participant in 2013-14. However, after realizing the relevance of communication between youth of different traditions, doing research, and attending events such as the Philadelphia Peace Walk, she decided to take her Walking the Walk experience to the next level by becoming a Student Group Leader. After serving as a Walking the Walk Student Group Leader in the 2014-15 program year, Husnaa decided to return in the same role in 2015-16 making it three straight years of being a part of the Walking the Walk program!
What drew you to interfaith work?
I was drawn to interfaith work because of a drive to understand. I have been shown ignorance throughout my life due to my race, gender, and faith, and I wanted to in no way be guilty of that myself.
Can you share a favorite story or moment from your time with the Interfaith Center?
A favorite moment of mine would have to be my community service experience at Inglis House, a wheelchair community which we were able to volunteer at many times during our Walking the Walk program year. One of the Inglis House residents, Ziva, had just moved there from the same town that I am from in Maryland. Ziva was Jewish, having been converted by a female rabbi, and she was very interested in our program in terms of the diversity in the levels of religious observance (she commented on the fact that I was wearing pants as she used to only wear skirts). However, what fascinated me most about Ziva were the stories she told about her former job as a paramedic and the compassion that she had for her family. This experience proved to me the humanness of disability - something which I had never considered before that day. I also have memories of residents who shared with us their lives as school teachers and parents, memories of their favorite musicians, or their love of exotic cuisines and recipes. Volunteering at Inglis House contributed significantly to helping me break down the mind-blocks that had begun to erode during the Walking the Walk program year. However, rather than related to faith, these mind blocks were related to [dis]ability, and I will forever be thankful for being exposed to the wonderful people at Inglis House.
What is your ultimate dream for what the Interfaith Center could achieve in our region?
My ultimate dream for the Interfaith Center in our region would be for the Center to continue thriving and gaining significance amongst more people in our region. This means that hopefully one day the Interfaith Center will be a well-known organization with many more programs, events, and plans for expandsion to more locations throughout the region, and, eventually, the country. I hope that the Walking the Walk program will become the global standard for interfaith open-mindedness and education.