Reaching across cultural and language barriers, immigrant students at the San Francisco International High School have compiled profiles of individuals working to solve a problem the students are personally affected by or interested in. This “Change-Maker” focuses on discrimination against immigrants. You can view the profiles of other Change-Makers here.
Our group interviewed Lara Kiswani. Lara is from Palestine and works at the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) in the Mission. She has worked at AROC for a year and a half, but has been active as a member since its inception. AROC is an organization that helps Arabs and Muslims in the Bay Area fight against racism. AROC provides direct legal services so Arabs and Muslim immigrants can be empowered by fighting deportation, FBI and police discrimination and to help them reunite with their families.
More About Our Change Maker
Lara told us the powerful story about why she chose to work on this problem: “I chose this problem because it’s part of my reality. I’m someone who grew up in the Bay Area from an immigrant family. I know how it feels to be out of place. I chose this problem because it’s close to my own lived experience and all those people l care about.”
Lara Kiswany grew up in the Bay Area, so she has many friends who come from different cultures and backgrounds—from Asian to Latino to black communities. They share some similar experiences. She said to us, “I am very committed to make sure that we work together to build across our communities to strengthen our power and make change. The Bay Area has a long history of really positive change. We can make a difference locally to help change the policies and the way the government treats people so l am committed to that.”
What You Can Do To Help
Our change-maker said, “I think one important thing I want people to learn is that we have to remember that these problems don’t just happen in small scales they happen in institutions and in society, so when we change these problems, we just can’t think of racism or discrimination happening between people—it happens between systems that are big and organized.”
If you want to help change the problem of religious discrimination, you can change the way you think, or help people being discriminated against by using non-violence to protest.
Another thing you can do to help is learn about different religions.
Student Group Ryan, 16, is from China. Amel, 15, is from Yemen. William, 16, is from El Salvador.