(Re)Imagining Home at Harvard University
Updated: Oct 5, 2019
I’m writing this as I’m currently on the plane heading back to Toronto after spending the weekend in Boston - I was invited by Harvard Arab Alumni to go to the Arab Conference at Harvard University!
"Arab Conference at Harvard is the largest pan-Arab conference in North America, bringing together nearly 1,300 students and professionals to discuss key issues with the region’s most prominent politicians, business people, and civil society leaders."
It was such an amazing experience - I met so many inspiring people from the organizers, the speakers, the guests, and the hundreds of people that attended! I got to represent my company there and the response I received was incredible.
As an entrepreneur, I typically attend various conferences and networking events on a weekly basis but this one was different. Not only did it cover topics that are related to my work/industry such as business, entrepreneurship, and the digital world, but it also covered something that it dear to my heart - Arab identity. The theme of the conference itself was “(Re)Imagining Home.”
With many Arabs feeling an urgent need to rebuild their homes in the motherland, reimagine better futures for their countries, or to build new homes abroad, we will narrate our discussions about our Homes’ future focusing on Identity, Healthcare, and Influence Governance. - ACH2019
The conference was held on Harvard University’s campus from April 5-7, 2019 and my company, Noomi, was part of the Refugee Fundraiser. Noomi and 10 other amazing organizations were there to raise money for such an amazing cause. Working alongside with Harvard Arab Alumni and the other organizations to raise money for the Refugee Fundraiser made the whole experience that much better! Also, I got to showcase Noomi products during the last day of the conference and the amount of love and support I got is something I’ll always remember! So many people loved Noomi and what it stood for. Getting to see everyone getting so excited about the products brought me so much joy and it was a reminder of why I started my business - to allow Middle Easterners proudly represent where they are from and allowing them to represent their beautiful culture EVERY SINGLE DAY ❤
I met numerous of people that shared their stories with me, from telling me about where they’re from, their Arab identity, their work, and all their experiences. For everyone I met that day, thank you for sharing it all - from the excitement, the stories, backgrounds and experiences - My next designs for Noomi are all inspired from all the conversations we had. This brand is for you and it makes me so excited to show you the new collection once it releases soon!
Personally, being an Arab is something I’m immensely proud of - which is why I even started my company, Noomi. And hence why being part of this conference was a great deal to me and has definitely been one of my favourite moments of 2019 so far!
I want to leave you with few of my favourite quotes from the speakers:
“To those who thought that being beautiful meant that you have to fit in to the social standards that society puts a big weight on, I showed them I was happily living...by just being ME.” - Karen Wazen
“As part of this journey, I was criticized by a lot of people who had no idea what I was doing. In fact, I had no idea what I was doing. I was just being myself and had no strategy. But I realized that the strategy was just that - to be myself.” - Karen Wazen
“I don’t have a home. I grew up having homes all over the world.” - Ahmed Shihab Eldin
“Online whether publicly or privately, engaging with people is so powerful in order to change people’s perception.” - Ahmed Shihab Eldin
“When running a business on social media: if there is an experience, there is always work behind it. It's constant work and it’s really hard. That’s the dark side of social media - people think you’re constantly living in a bubbly world and that’s not true.” - Hadia Ghaleb
“Social media is our greatest tool and weapon…we can control our own narrative and shape our own stories.” - Amy Mowafi
“You should find your strength somewhere. And that’s what I found here. Harvard means so much to me because when I came back, I remembered where my strength started and got it back.” - Hynd Bouhia
“Just be comfortable with your identity - that’s your culture and heritage. You bring so much to this world. You are adding something valuable to the people around you when you represent who you truly are.” - Mohamed Hadid
Follow Harvard Arab Alumni to hear upcoming conferences in the future!
Thank you so much to Harvard Arab Alumni for inviting me and allowing me to be a part of an incredible conference!