Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013...let the awesomeness commence

Two weeks into 2013 and so much has happened. I wonder if this entire year will be like this. 2012 was a totally insane year. A "I can't believe all this happened year". My head is still spinning and it's already 2013. Last year I went to Vietnam after an insane fundraising effort, THEN was elected to go to the Democratic National Convention, which was insanely awesome. I went from starting 2012 with two part-time non-profit jobs and no health insurance and to working full time at my organization, Community Health for Asian Americans, where I work as a Youth Coordinator for Southeast Asian Young Leaders (SEAYL). I get to inspire the next generation!

my reaction to this year

2012 was also the year where I started blogging for Hyphen magazine and saw the inspiring growth of the Black Young Democrats of the East Bay and greatly increased diversity in young Democrat organizing in the East Bay. 2012 was the year I connected with former black panther founder and legend Bobby Seale to do an event, and also became part of an amazing class of young leaders as part of the San Francisco New Leaders Council 2012 class. I've met so many new and utterly inspiring people, and have become involved in so many wonderful things that really....oh wait my head is spinning again.

But 2012 also had its difficult and somber moments. This was the year I met and lost my friend Travis Morgado to the War in Afghanistan, an experience I blogged about a few times. I am so glad I was able to meet him and connect with his beautiful family, who have shown me much support in return. I also lost my friend Yvette at the onset of the year and my Barbara Nanu, an aunt who helped raise me as a child also passed away. I carry these losses with me always, I don't think people were really ever meant to 'get over', but we move on because what other choice do we really have?

So I come to 2013, who knows what this year will hold. Will it it be as utterly packed, emotional and insanely overwhelming as 2012? Probably. Already this year I ran to be an California Democratic Party Assembly delegate in my Assembly District, am continuing to help with organizing at my work against unjust labor practices and may be on the board of a great API organization and I am part of a groundbreaking International online art exhibit with a ridiculously talented group of Muslim women artists at the International Museum of Women, which will culminate in our March exhibit opening. Just the usual!

My fellow kick-butt Muslima artists and I!
I have to say though, amongst all of these activities, I did find some time to really enjoy myself and be with people I love. This past holiday season and New Years was a heartwarming experience. I returned to the East Coast to hang out with my family back in Wilkes-Barre, PA, the small town where I went to high school. There I took photos for the Women's museum exhibit by connecting with my local mosque. It was the mosque I attended as a child and a teenager and a mosque that has helped out my parents during the most difficult times in our lives.

In the East coast I also got in touch with Vivek Bald, the author of Bengali Harlem (to find out more, or to purchase the book please go to This is a book that could not be closer to my heart. It details the hidden stories of Bangladeshi (and other South Asian) immigrants that came to the US in the early 20th century. My family is included in these stories, as my dear nana (who's life and death I blogged about before) and his brother, Ibrahim Chowdry were some of the first Bangladeshi immigrants to come to New York City, Ibrahim actually being the first Bangladeshi man in NYC.  I have a feeling I will be writing another blog post soon about this topic, there is just so much to say about it. Let's just say that it inspired me to know that I had family doing community and social justice work in this country decades before I was even born!

My great grand uncle, community activist, my inspiration, Ibrahim Chowdry
The holidays and New Years invigorated me. From ugly sweater parties, to gallivanting around New jersey and PA during a blizzard, to eating as much pizza as humanly possible (West Coast has some great stuff, but pizza isn't one of them!) to spending time with my boyfriends family in upstate New York, I felt energized to be around people who love me and believe in me, and I do think that I am lucky to have this on both coasts. I think that this is a very special element in my life, to find good people no matter where I go.

Me and my homeboys rocking our ugly sweater..except Paul, who doesn't do the ugly sweater thing

So bring it on 2013! I will probably post less since I am so busy, but I will post nonetheless. My personal blog allows me to vent, ruminate and reflect on my life and I am glad to share that with my loved ones, friends and readers (all 5 of ya). I've looked at my earlier posts recently and realized that they were basically recounts of me banging my head in frustration about what to do with my life. At this point I am alright with the uncertainty, because honestly everything is uncertain, we just fool ourselves into thinking it isn't. I may not have solid plans but my goals are alive and well. Though I may never become an intergalactic ambassador from earth to other civilizations (hey, you never know!) I will continue to dream big, because well, what else is there to do really?

I wanted to end this post with something inspiring that happened to me recently. Last Saturday, on the Assembly delegate election day, I was surprised to arrive and see one of my friends already at the election, waiting for me. The reason I was surprised was because he is currently not a US citizen, so he cannot vote; he is still on his asylum status from Iran and has to wait another 3 years to vote. I was very happy to see him but asked him why he had gone through the trouble of coming out. "Because I wanted to support you and to be here if you needed help" he said responded.

I cannot express how touched I was by that experience. People who have immigrated to this country, who still cannot vote are willing to be involved and to help out. Even our own citizens often don't do that much. One of my co-workers, who is a permanent resident of Nepali background asked me if she could vote and support me as well. I was so moved by this. When people are anti-immigrant, I seriously want to just shake them into reality so they could understand that immigrants often love this country and contribute to this country more than anyone.

I am blessed to have experiences like this, and 2013 has only started. I only continue to be inspired =)

2012 over and out, big fat welcome to 2013!

I hope 2013 brings you lots of bear hugs!!!*

 *Disclaimer: Nadia Won't Shut Up does not promote nor encourage the hugging of dangerous omnivorous wildlife