Salam, Shalom, Namaste, Hello! My name is Mishal and I was born and brought up in Lahore, Pakistan. Growing up in Pakistan, which is predominantly (97%) Muslim, I was always surrounded by people who were very much like me. Coming to UW I experienced a drastic shift from being part of the majority to now suddenly being a marginalized group on campus. This change along with the increase in Islamophobia across the US inspired me to work to educate those who had perhaps never met a Muslim in their life to see us from a different perspective; one which is at least different than what the media portrays us to be.
My first interfaith experience was in grade 10 where despite the lack of diversity, an interfaith conference brought together Pakistani Muslims, Christians and Sikhs from all around the country to highlight our similarities while respecting our differences. I walked out of that two-day conference hopeful that I will be able to continue such conversations. Over these past 2 years that I have been at UW, my interest in interfaith cooperation has only grown. I am fortunate that I have met and formed relationships with students and faculty who are willing to learn from one another and work actively for a more inclusive society on campus. Last year CRGC was able to work towards such an inclusive society by getting the dining halls to provide Kosher and Halal food options for those who observe such dietary preferences. I’m hopeful that the platform CRGC has provided us with this year will aid to further advance the #RealUW and prove to everyone irrespective of their difference in belief, race or any identity that they too are welcome and belong here.