year one at USC

today was my last day on the USC campus until fall semester. what a whirlwind for my first year.

former MSW’s told me that the first year would be challenging. so much of being a good mental health provider is working through your own traumas. in the words of my favorite professor: “you gotta own your own shit before you can help someone else”

oh man was she right. the intersectionality of being a woman, an afghan, a muslim, the child of refugees, a survivor of trauma, depression & anxiety. i pathologized the sh*t out of myself and learned to name the feelings and experiences that i’d been suffocating because of social stigmas. and my alopecia came back this month with a vengeance – as a reminder that being mindful is the only healthy way to cope with stress.

but as social workers we always strive towards a strengths-based approach. towards promoting resilience. towards empowering ourselves so that we can empower our clients.

the afghan-american conference could not have come at a better time. this weekend i’ve been given the opportunity to yet again engage my community. to pose challenging questions that force us to examine ourselves as diaspora children. i’ll be seeing all of the AAC attendees in Washington, DC. please attend the roundtable discussion on afghan-american identity! i am looking forward to seeing you there. & also can we collectively egg the White House? k cool thanks. (JK … i think)

to my professors, colleagues, roommates, family & friends: thank you so much for your support this year. i know i could not have done it without you. to my little clients who have no way of reading this because they’re elementary school kids, (lol) i learned so much from you. these children were some of the most resilient, optimistic, kind little souls i’ve ever met. i am so sad to terminate my time with you but am confident in your success.

cheers to being 365 days closer to my social work degree <3

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recognize the Armenian Genocide 

The marches

In the desert

Their feet blistered and bloody

Our refugees

We see them

In videos and we see them in pictures

We know they are running away

From the mouth of a snake

But what if there were no videos

What if only quiet stories told us

Stories that have been silenced

By dictators

By nationalists

By corrupt politicians

What if we only heard our grandmother in the living room

Mourning her family

What if we had to fight

To get records of her existence

Then our wounds would still be open

Even a century later

If you mourn for the refugee

Read about the Armenians

And learn about a people who still find

The bones of their loved ones

Underneath sand in Der Zor


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it is that easy 

And just like that

You could

Walk into my home

Make yourself a plate

Run your fingers through my hair

Kiss the bruises you left me with

And I would make you a spot in my bed

I would place two pillows instead of one

I would sleep on the side I hate because

You like the other

Just like that

I’d inconvenience myself

I’d open up my ribcage

I’d tell you

My heart is still your home. The one you forget. The one you neglect. It’s all yours.

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Meeting my WCW: Shadia Mansour


British Palestinian MC Shadia Mansour exercises non-violent protest against Israeli occupation through her music. Shadia’s lyrics are raw and powerful, not only challenging Israel, but calling for Hamas and Fatah to stop fighting amongst each other. Born to Christian parents, Mansour travelled to Palestine as a child, and has taken on a “musical intifada” against the occupation, conservatism, and the oppression of women. She has collaborated with Juice Rosado of Public Enemy, M-1, Lowkey, and has been featured in Rolling Stones. She has refused to perform to gender-separated audiences.

AF3IRM gave SWANA-LA the opportunity to meet Shadia to discuss social justice issues this week. It was an amazing experience and SWANA-LA is looking forward to more collaboration!

Here’s one of my faves from Shadia:

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this art installation by Jenny Holzer changed my life. it is in our deepest dreams that we find new ways to cope, new strategies to remain resilient. so much of being human is having to adapt, to deal with change. as a Cancer I have an extremely difficult time with change – changing seasons, lifestyles, semesters, jobs, friends…. to many people change is exciting but for me it’s always been overwhelming. it triggers my anxiety and throws me off completely. but recognizing that and working through it is my goal for this year. 

keep dreaming, keep surviving. the strongest people are those that fight, even when the world around them is crashing.


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there will be times 

there will be times in your life

that someone will enter

someone who was once a stranger 

make you forget how to breathe

forget how to dream 

without their dreams intertwining into yours 

forget how to breathe without their scent on your nose 

forget how you rose up

without their hand lifting you

there will be times

you will feel nothing

because they taught you how to open

the corners of your heart and they filled them

when you remember 

just try to forget 

because they won’t be there to teach you

how to heal from their absence. 


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It was fate

That I’d move in the summer I fell in love

That you’d put together my bed with sturdy hands

That I’d make memories in a large empty hall

That I’d find new ways to smile

And that I’d remind myself to stand tall

It was fate
That I’d move out on valentines

That I’d be alone 

That I’d stretch my body in bed

To take up the space you left 

It was fate
That we both closed doors 

That we sent each other subtle messages 

That were clear as day to us

That said I can’t love you anymore

Because I want you to be a good person

Because I want you to find love without me

Because I know I am not good to you

Or for you

It was fate 
That you walked in when hurting myself was all I could feel

And you walked out with empty hands

And when I began to teach myself how to heal. 

When I came here
These stairs were so clean

Now I am leaving 

I broomed them so 

The next person could climb them up

And make use of the space I abandoned when you made it hurt to sleep there alone.

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The Middle Eastern Girl’s Guide to Self-Care During Trump Chaos

By now, unless you’re living under a rock, you have been hit with headline after headline announcing the shit-storm that Trump is creating. Our education, environment, and human rights are going to shit.

If you’re a Middle Eastern, Muslim female, your right to self-determination has been threatened by this administration.

I’m going to use myself as an example. My parents are Afghan refugees. I maintain contact with family back in Afghanistan, many have visited since my family resettled here.

My roommates, who I am incredibly close to, are both hijabis of Syrian and Sudanese descent (both countries on Trump’s banned list).

So this little apartment in Glendale, with one Afghan, one Sudanese, and one Syrian, is buzzing with Trump news. We are mortified. We are worried about our families. About our safety.

In the midst of this chaos, I have found the following list of items to be therapeutic for me:

  1. Eat a PB & J. Hits the spot everytime

  1. Watch re-runs of the Real Housewives of Atlanta. They’re funny as hell & it helps keep your mind off the apocaplypse happening in Washington

  1. Read the story of the Pharoah Ramses II in the Qur’an. Remember what happens to a tyrannical leader? Homie is chillin in a box for the whole world to see what happens to despots: “Today we will preserve your body so you can be a Sign for people who come after you. Surely many people are heedless of Our Signs.”[10:91-92] This story is sure to uplift you.


  1. Listen to Girls by M.I.A.

  1. Run a mile every night

  1. Delete the Facebook app from your phone. Deactivate your account if you real serious

  1. Read The Autobiography of Malcolm X

  1. Wash dishes to your favorite Dariush song, on louddddddd


  1. Order Ajarski, Lebne and fries, in that order

  1. Listen to 2pac

  1. Watch Devdas and realize SRK plays an abusive alcoholic

      12. Call your family every night and tell them you love their little immigrant selves <3

Oh and the most important rule in my self-care during this time??? IGNORE ALLLLL THE HATERS. I’m sure it’s weird realizing good friends are Trump supporters. It’s weird knowing that people who personally know you support an administration that is doing everything to harm you. So my advice is to hide their updates on your timeline, delete, or block them. Some might think that’s childish but for real no body got time for that shit lol. 

I know it’s a scary time for us. I keep imagining my mother’s story of survival. Her tired hands now and what must be running through her mind. But don’t be afraid. Hold onto hope and practice Sabr, we need that now more than ever. A tactic in oppression is breaking the spirit of the group you are trying to oppress. Do not let these headlines make you feel hopeless. Do you know who you are? You are the wildest dreams of your ancestors. You are the brightest star in your lineage of warriors. You are capable, and you are ready. The spirit of our people will NEVER ever falter. So clear your mental energy. Take care of yourself. Listen to your body & your mind & your spirit. I know you are a social justice warrior & you contemplate your place in the American fabric at night. But every soldier needs a break, too. So please, do not overwhelm your precious minds with the pain. You will need that power soon enough.


Peace Be Upon You,


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No Ban No Wall

my people you are so misunderstood. you suffer the most and are offered the least. half of our heart is with you. the protests, the outcry, these are symptoms of our guilty consciences, my broken people…. that our families left so long ago and came here when it was still a welcoming place. why did you stay then? u were braver than us. God must love you the most because He tests your every breath. i am so sorry that we are here and you are there. #NoBanNoWall

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I miss Marissa,

My pretty island girl with flowers in her hair

She always smelled like vanilla and hairspray

And she was the only person I wanted to laugh with.

When Southern breezes swept our faces, we just smiled and held hands,

And when people passed, she asked me earnestly, how could I handle & keep my composure?

I looked to her softly, with mother Moon gazing over,

“I have no other choice.” & she wept for me.

And for ten years, we celebrated this cycle;

Laughing, smiling, holding and crying.

Reminding each other that we had no other option, but to collect our pride, and carry on.

And on the eleventh year, God said “No more!”

& the Earth opened and swallowed a Princess.

Shocked & dazed, we all came together,

to water her grave until exhaustion.

And He again left me, with no other option.

And without Marissa, I must carry on.

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