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Humans and our institutions

I usually make a clear distinction between an institution itself and the people who make up that institution, because I always feel uncomfortable when people criticize institutions based on what its members do. This might sound weird; after all, an institution is its people, is it not? Well, not necessarily. The personal example for me,…

Decisions, decisions

Sometimes, deciding whom to ask for advice is as fraught as the decision you need advice for. Anybody who truly cares about you will give you what they think is the best advice. But what a person thinks is best is based on that person’s values, and those values are soaked up from what they…

External markers of identity

This November will mark a year since I stopped covering my hair. I decided that the cons of looking Muslim overwhelmed the pros and so succumbed to the external and internal pressure to abandon the hijab. There were many social consequences of this; I no longer received salaams from other Muslim women, people stopped stepping out…

Bridging Impossible Distances: On the Inferiority of the Girl

After being married to my mother for barely six weeks, my father emigrated to the United States from Ghana to start building a new life for his family. My mother moved to my father’s family’s house, as was the tradition. When it became clear that my mother was not pregnant after six weeks of marriage, she became the subject of ridicule in the house. She was given the worst work and constantly insulted. She was a childless married woman. This was a problem. It was enough of a problem that my father made frequent cross-Atlantic conjugal visits. After almost a year, they finally conceived. And I was born. This was a bigger problem. The first born child is supposed to be male. If all the children turn out to be male, that’s not really an issue. If there are female children born after the first male child, it’s not a huge deal either. However, having a first born girl child is not okay. And my father’s family made sure my mother knew it.

Bridging impossible distance: Distant stories

I have to be upfront here. I am not technically an international student. I hold American citizenship and so receive federal financial aid. I receive citizenship through my father, who is a naturalized citizen. However, I do not have citizenship papers in my name, so I have no way to prove my American citizenship when…

Bridging Impossible Distance: Part 1/Introduction

“This is part one of a series that is broadly about how cultural differences inform our experiences here at Stanford. I will be drawing largely from personal experiences, both mine and others’, and will attempt to speak on topics ranging from Western exceptionalism, evaluating value systems, and the impact of religion. Comments and discussion will…