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Sinking into the couch, she cried silently as the news showed the Islamic Center of Lake Travis bursting into flames. I stared at my mom, and we both knew that it was not an accident. I always fought with my mom about doing laundry or cleaning dishes, but I never imagined fighting for my own name. These gruesome events have brought fear into our hearts, but I aimed to rise above it. I channeled my outrage by supporting and fighting for Muslims who are without a voice, but before I could, I had to understand how to raise awareness.
I have felt isolated by my own religion for as long as I can remember, and I knew from middle school that it was not easy to make friends. Is your dad a terrorist?
As I finally began to find my voice, we moved to California. I had support from the Muslim Student Association, but after six months, I moved back to Texas, where I felt isolated again. I realized I had to work twice as hard to get people to look past my exterior and my name. I joined a committee for International Outreach, where I created and sold wristbands to go towards refugee relief. For months, I would spend every lunch convincing even the most reluctant students to participate, increasing mindfulness for Muslims. All of those funds went to the innocent refugees in Austin who came here looking for hope, only to be faced with more oppression, and I made sure my classmates were aware of the Islamophobia.
After years of raising awareness, I finally had the potential to make a prominent change. I achieved what I wanted since the moment I realized my community was not as friendly to me as it was to others. But during that time, not only did Lake Travis High School elect me as a Muslim student body president, but the community itself was adhering to this level of acceptance.
Although the Islamic Center burned to the ground, the overwhelming amount of aid was incomprehensible; there were volunteers from all over helping rebuild and fundraise for the mosque. This was only the beginning for me; this newfound mutual respect between my community and myself led me to finally convince my mom not to change my name. I am Tasnim Islam.
Instead, I will educate myself and others and, in turn, break the immense negative stigma on Muslims.
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I will forever continue to strive for peace and acceptance by raising awareness, using social media as a platform, and bringing attention to politicians who directly want to alleviate Islamophobia. A pickup truck rattled down a path, gravel shooting into the trees amidst panicked screams on October 31, Just north of the World Trade Center Memorial in Lower Manhattan, New York, a terrorist used a truck to deliberately plow down and run over bicyclists and pedestrians, turning the peaceful walkway into one of terror and bloodshed.
This terrorist, claiming to be Muslim, directly contradicts the true Islamic belief in a loving God by committing manslaughter. I am currently a junior at a high school in Chicago, and I take the train and bus to school. Since freshman year, I have gazed into the eyes of countless homeless people begging for money on the streets. I have brushed off those who have so little and quickly looked away from their desperate hands. One day last year I wondered: what happens to the leftover bagels at Einstein Bagels since they are baked fresh every day?
I soon found out that they donate them. It only takes a simple call to reserve a number of bagels at the end of the day, and then a quick drive to pick them up. Since I had just gotten my permit and loved to drive, I began delivering the leftover bagels to various PADS emergency shelter programs and the mosque. When I would make my bagel delivery, there were long lines stretching outside the synagogue, waiting for these dishes that resembled the quality of a restaurant.
The main chef at this synagogue told me a story about a teen who was preparing for his Bar Mitzvah. In order to get service hours, he hosted a movie night at the synagogue and made popcorn, which he sold to all those who came. With the money the teen made from the movie nights, he bought first aid supplies, assembled a kit for each guest and personally handed them out at the PADS program. Once when I delivered bagels to a Catholic Church, people were decorating a huge Christmas tree for the guests to enjoy and had a surprise for each one: a gift card to a shoe store, so that each person could buy a new pair.
During a bagel run to a Methodist Church, I saw a whole family working together to serve the homeless: a husband and wife prepared the meal while their children laid down the mats for the PADS program. However, all religions strive to serve a loving God and share the identical values of love, generosity and respect.
Being Catholic myself, I have learned that truly embodying the Eucharist means feeding the hungry, both physically and spiritually. Similarly, all religions share this great love and call to service. Through these bagel deliveries, I witnessed firsthand the various faiths working together for a common good, and the tremendous impact they have made upon overcoming poverty in the Chicago area.
Instead of creating barriers that lead to conflict and war, these world religions can work together to build bridges of peace and unity in our current turbulent society. There have been three major violent attacks in the United States in the past six weeks.
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A shooter in Las Vegas killed 58 people and injured others attending a music festival. In another attack, in New York City, a man murdered eight people and injured 12 using a rented truck from Home Depot to plow into them. Last Sunday, a man killed 26 and injured 20 people attending Sunday services at a church in a small town in Texas. I have lived through many acts of violence, such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in That same year, Trayvon Martin, a year-old African- American from Florida, was fatally shot, ironically, by a neighborhood watch volunteer.
There are things we can do. One thing we can do is to raise awareness about religion and racism. Interfaith programs at our churches, synagogues, mosques and temples can help promote goodwill and understanding through diversity. By seeing that we share faith in a higher power and working together for the greater good, we promote understanding. Paul, Minn. In the process, these young people are empowered to be capable interfaith leaders, both within their own communities and beyond. Having more programs like this one, throughout the United States and the world, will help cultivate more understanding leadership and promote greater understanding among different religions.
Teens can also raise awareness of gun violence. Programs like these can help empower teens to help them realize they can be proactive in ending the cycle of violence. Another way teens can use their voice to denounce violence and terror is through social media. When she was challenged by another student to prove there were Muslims who condemned violence in the name of Islam, Heraa Hashmi, a year-old college student at the University of Colorado Boulder, decided to make a list of all the Muslim groups that did.
Her idea led to a resource for anyone to access the information. Whether coming together in an interfaith group, rallying at an anti-gun youth summit or using social media to create awareness against violence, teens have a voice. Gun violence and terror attacks need to end in my generation.
Maybe Mr. You will always find people who are helping. The essays are a good way to connect with the young folks. They renew my hope in the future of the Catholic Church in the U. I pray for all the students and teachers who participated in the essay contest.
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May God continue to generously bless them! May they bring to our global village the peace, hope, joy and justice our global village needs. Taking care of our common home is an idea that, for our world today, is no longer an issue of tomorrow but an issue of today. It is such an important idea because humans are the reason the environment is in a decline in the first place, so it is our responsibility to fix what we started.
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Pope Francis thinks that taking care of our common home should be a corporal work of mercy; Mother Teresa wanted us to stop wasting precious environmental goods. So how, exactly, are we supposed to help the environment? If one wants to stop contributing to the bad activities that will lead to earth becoming a gray wasteland, simple steps can be done to do so. Using less energy and urging politicians to make Delaware more eco-friendly are simple ways that I treat the environment better and respect Earth, our common home.
Decreasing the amount of energy that I use and encouraging my friends and family to do the same is a way that I can directly affect the amount of fossil fuels burned for energy. Wherever we go, my friends and I turn off unused lights and only use the amount of water that is necessary. These are particularly easy ways to help the environment because they take no time out of the day, require little to no effort, and are easy habits to get into and spread to other people. Whenever citizens feel that an issue their local politicians are voting on pertains to them personally, they can mail a letter to the politicians to ask them to consider their circumstances and why they want the politicians to vote a certain way.
An issue that pertains to me personally is conservation of the earth. So whenever an environmental vote comes up, I mail a letter to my local representatives to remind them that voting to put checks on big manufacturing businesses is one of the most important things for preserving the earth and its resources.
Everyone who is able must put in an effort to save our earth, before it is too late. If we all work together, as a whole world, we can make the earth beautiful, green and safe for all the generations after us. Pope Francis understands this better than any other pope before him. He knows that God wants us to protect the beautiful world he gave us.
God wants us to protect our common home, with every way we can. Ellie Kooney, an eighth-grader at St. The world 65 million years ago was very different than our earth today. There were no roads. No giant buildings that tower over our cemented land.
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No polluted waters that we now have to drink from. No humans, no problem it seemed. There used to be many amazing creatures on this earth. Out of the many African elephants that once lived, only , still live in the wild. Numerous bees now are on the endangered species list. Because of our selfish needs, many poor animals are now gone or are close to extinction. What will you do to stop this?