By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Growing up as a Muslim American, Aliza Majid has encountered harassment. She knows deep down, most people are kind and welcoming but when it came to working on her Gold Award Project, she came up with what she thought was the perfect fit.
Her project, titled, “A Muslim Girl in America,” combines her passion and pride about her faith with ways to educate those that are not familiar with her religion. Her goal for this project was also to demystify misconceptions about Islam and the stigma that sometimes she feels surrounds her culture.
This is the Girl Scouts highest award that only a small percentage achieve nationwide.
“I started this project by trying to spread awareness about my religion given the current climate in our country,” Aliza said. “I created Ramadan and Eid baskets. The baskets were distributed to some churches and the police station. Ramadan goes along with the lunar calendar and we fast from sun up until sunset. We share kindness and the baskets filled with fruits, candies and informational pamphlets explaining the holiday as well as Eid, which falls at the end of Ramadan. The holiday is actually a time to try and purify you and think of ways to be kind. The hardships that you go through are intended to help you reflect on your life. Even though I am fasting during the school days, I focus more on my studies and I find the days pass quickly.”
One of the other things that Aliza did to implement her project was to talk to the Westborough town committees. She did a presentation on Islam at one of the Diversity Committee meetings and discussed ways in which the community could come together and be more comfortable with all ethnicities and religions.
She also spoke to the local Westborough Rotary Club on ways to spread awareness about Islam and how to be more inclusive. In addition, Aliza participated in the Masjid E. Basheer “Open Door Day” that was held in March. Everyone was welcome for this educational and fun day. About 500 attendees participated in this event, enjoying food from different cultures, henna stations, demonstrations on how to put on a hijab (traditional head covering) and more.
“I had a booth set up at Westborough’s annual Fourth of July Block Party and had information available for two organizations,” Aliza explained. “The first, Helping Hands for Relief and Development (HHRD), is a nonprofit that I’ve been working with and it helps people around the world. The other organization is called “Why Islam?” I had brochures that people could take.”
Because teenagers use social media quite readily, Aliza created a Youth Group blog (https://theteenageummah.wixsite.com/website) that shares views about Islam from teenage girls in the community.
When Aliza first began her Gold Award Project, she was hesitant about the response she would get. Everyone has been open to discuss her project and she confirmed that this has been a really positive experience.
In her free time, Aliza loves reading, spending time with friends, creative writing and listening to Korean music (KPop). She imagines herself, five years from now, continuing to be an advocate for Islam, while possibly pursuing a career in journalism or architecture.