Mar 27
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Jane Eyre: A Cinderella Story

“Tale as old as time. True as it could be” While these words, from Disney’s 1991 rendition of Beauty and the Beast, refer to the plotline of a man turned beast and the pivotal nature of true love’s kiss, they can also be applied to the fairytale archetype itself. Whether it’s the similarities between Beauty and the Beast and Princess and the Frog or Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, this archetype is present in countless movies from a myriad of eras. This enchanted model isn’t limited solely to Disney animation and live-action remakes, but also classics like Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Although Jane Eyre can be compared to countless tales from Harry Potter to Star Wars, it’s parallels to Cinderella are uncanny, for the characters, plot, and themes are strikingly similar. However, Jane Eyre does differ from the traditional princess tale in its characters and complexity.
Mar 23
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The Duality Of My Thanksgiving
Despite the abundance of stores full of Christmas decorations, Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

For me, Thanksgiving has always been a time of self-reflection but also a somewhat painful manifestation of the dual identities I struggle to balance daily. Amidst the holiday cheer and playful “Friends-giving”, understanding where I fit in can be difficult.

Historically for me, Thanksgiving hasn’t been a day of long-loved tradition, but rather the haphazard formation of new ones.

Every year it seems that my family and I will take another stab at trying to merge our American and Pakistani roots. We annually pick and choose what we will integrate, but whether it be turkey one year or biryani the next, we never miss the opportunity to remember all that we should be thankful for.
Mar 18
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The Youth Are Mobilizing

This commentary was aired on Vermont Public Radio.

Historically young people haven’t had the best reputation: Teens have often been characterized as too busy texting and tweeting to be aware of or to engage in current events.

However, despite this stereotype, youth have been organizing, most recently around gun reform.

Students in Parkland and around the country, including our own Vermont, are showing that young people are aware and ready to act.

We’ve met with legislators, given testimonies, spoken at press conferences, and organized national walkouts.

In addition, on March 24, we’ll be marching nationwide in Washington, D.C., as well as in Rutland and Montpelier. And youth involvement won’t end here nor is it limited to high school students. Youth of all ages from eight to 18 are interested in making the change they want to see.

And here are some ways adults can help:
Mar 01
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Chocolate Cake

      The dark, decorated exterior of the ganache-glazed chocolate cake tempted me as I imagined the rich taste I would experience with my first bite. I imagined the enthusiasm of my taste buds as they encountered the ornamental maraschino cherries sprinkled amongst the dollops of buttercream frosting. It sat there mocking me in the slightly dented plastic cover enclosed with a seal reading the word ‘Hannaford.’ I contemplated my first bites, barely registering the muted, faraway voices of the meeting happening around me. I was so fixated with the silver utensils and plastic plates begging for me to take them that my fingers danced underneath the smooth wooden table as I prayed my stomach wouldn’t betray me. I nodded empathetically as I attempted to focus on the conversation as the members around the table droned on. Just nod, I thought to myself, knowing that if I could make it through the next few minutes I could indulge in devouring that creamy chocolate cake.
Audio download:
Chocolate Cake.m4a
Nov 21
Kiran's picture

Hijab 101

She be rockin it, she be rockin it(2x), she be rockin’ that hijab

K: But you think she’s oppressed

H: It’s a little short of the feminist movement

K: You think she’s mistreated

Aren't you hot in that?

Do you shower with that on?

What’s underneath that thing?

K: Why are you wearing that? You were prettier before

H: Can I touch your hair?

*whisper* Did your dad make you wear it?
Welcome to Hijab 101

Lesson #1: Basic pronunciation

It’s hi-jab not heeejob

H: Learn to work your tongue around it

K: Twist and bend until you get can get the perfect sounds

H: This will be your first test
Lesson #2: Common misconceptions

H: People don’t seem to realize...

It’s my choice!
Jun 09
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Body Standards

Body Standards

By: Kiran Waqar

You saw my body way before you saw who I am
But that’s okay
I did the same to you
You took it all in
The outfit - meh
The face - blah
The body - ugh

I saw yours
Thin waste
Luscious hair and breasts
Beautiful baby blues
You are the standard

How can I ever compete?
Your clothes are great and so is your skin.
I prophesize your personality will match without even a single word.
I can see your pearly whites and sigh.
I know mine can never be so shiny.
I bet you get all the boys you want.
Bet they chase after you like a hungry dog.
Bet you have life easy.
With your long eyelashes you wouldn’t have to work a day in your life.

Only problem is you’re not real
You’re a product of makeup artists, stylists, designers and editors
Editors who brushed away 15 pounds
Jun 09
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By: Balkisa Abdikadir, Lena Ginawi, Hawa Adam, and Kiran Waqar

I can’t talk about black liv…
Don’t talk about it
There is an elephant in the room
I can’t talk about gay righ...
Shhhhh don’t talk about it
There is an elephant in the room
I am in my room
Watching video
After video
After video
Black girl talks about black power
White girl talks about feminism
Muslim girl recites the Quran

I want to hear a white person speak up against racism
I want to see a man stand up against rape
I want to witness a Jew preach against islamophobia
Does this even happen?
Why isn’t this happening?

There is an elephant in the room
These problems are too big for one group to handle
One person
One identity to handle
We need you
And you need us
Jun 09
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Welcome, Welcome, Welcome

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome

By: Kiran Waqar, Hawa Adam, Balkisa Abdikadir, and Lena Ginawi

Welcome, Welcome X 3 (softer and descending)
Lady Liberty: Welcome, Welcome X 2 more (louder and ascending)
Child your mother is calling you
Come mix into this melting pot
We invite the flavor, the culture, the warmth
Come to the land of the free
To the home of the brave

Whose land is this?
How far does your freedom go back?
Do you know the names of the tribes you stand on?
Who decides who stands here?

My torch is lit for you
I stand alone in the dark
Come join me
My soil is ready for your footprints
This place is one for your feet to stomp all over the restrictions
Child come swim in this liquor of liberty

Let me tell you
I fought hard for my freedom
My children are dead
Jun 09
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By: Kiran Waqar and Hawa Adam

K: We are color changing machines
H: Our survival is camouflage
We have to adapt
K: I don’t mean to brag but if there was an award for best-assimilator, I think I would win
Actually, no, we would win
H: We are the queens of chameleons, the rulers of all
K: We have so many different layers we don’t even know who we are
H: Who we are
K: Who we are
Who we are
H: Layer #1: The epidermis, its use: Protection
protecting us from ignorant predators
K: Your skin is too dark for the playground
silent objections
and isolating stares
But it is not a shell
It cannot hide us
It cannot keep us safe

K: So we develop thick skin so no one can ever see us
So no one can ever know us
Jun 09
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By: Kiran Waqar

What makes us any different than a mountain lion?
A bumble bee?
A bat? A monster?
Is it our opposable thumbs?
The ability to understand the world around us?
The corny dad jokes?
The motherly affection?
What makes us human? What changes us from beast to person?
It is our voices
Our opinions that invoke change
That are heard from the tops of mountains
From the darkest corners where not even light can escape
We are there. We are brave. We are loud. We are unbashful. We are quiet
Whispering our beliefs
We are the change
With every breath
Opinion we alter the course of humanity
We screw the road map of society
Searching the busy roads for beautiful gems
The quiet streets for hidden messages
The forgotten allies for the forgotten folks
Every day we choose our words