This oral history interview is an intimate conversation between two people, both of whom have generously agreed to share this recording with Oral History Summer School, and with you. Please listen in the spirit with which this was shared.
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This interview was conducted with Tawhida Sayeda at Kite's Nest, Hudson on July 1, 2016. Tawhida comes from a Muslim family and lives with her brother, sisters and parents in Hudson, NY and recently graduated from High School. In the interview she talks about her struggles with not fitting in and bullying and the impact of Operation Unite on her life. She specifically mentions the help she received from Ms. Elena Mosley, Mr. Mosley, Miss Bernadette Martin and Miss Cal Wheeler had on her being able to articulate her story about being bullied. Operation Unite clearly plays a central role in her and has taught her, she says, to be less shy, to speak up, work, prepare for college and do interesting things like gardening and drumming. She spends time talking about her friendships and her nostalgia for high school. She sees her brother as high achieving and expresses confidence in her brother's future. She describes her Dad's temperment as a fighter and the divulges that he's not working because of a health condition and his strong faith. She also talks about her relationship with her mother and brother. She feels that Hudson has a lot of diversity and she likes it here and feels connected to its residents and compares it to the crowds and traffic of NYC. She also compares the US to Bangladesh and the difficulties she has reconciling with the country's poverty and following the different cultural norms imposed on women in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. She discusses prisoners and substance abuse among young people. Towards the end of the interview she talks about her Islamic faith and her understanding of it as a young person and her desire to keep her faith strong. She also denounces ISIS and violence and talks about the relationship of the group to her faith. She discusses various things (like dating) that are forbidden to her because of her faith and her understanding of what is expected of her as a good Muslim. She ends the interview talking about how happy she is with her life in Hudson.
This interview would be of interest to those curious about young Bengali-Americans and their parents in Hudson, their every day life, Operation Unite's impact on Bengali-American youth, friendship among young people, Hudson High School, and the evolving relationship of young Muslim-Americans to their faith.
Meera Nair is a Queens based writer, educator and communications professional. She has published three books and her work has appeared in various newspapers, journals and anthologies. She teaches creative writing at NYU and Brooklyn College. She is also the Communications Manager for India Home, a community based organization serving seniors of South Asian origin in Queens. She is excited to use Oral History for community engagement and to further her own artistic interests.
This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.
Oral history is an iterative process. In keeping with oral history values of anti-fixity, interviewees will have an opportunity to add, annotate and reflect upon their lives and interviews in perpetuity. Talking back to the archive is a form of “shared authority.”