Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng at Professor Ahmed's class at American University
Like so many of my peers, I set off a couple years ago to college in Washington, DC, looking to save the world, or at least change it, and promptly found that the world is a bit uncooperative. Unfortunately, there seems to be a glut of well-intentioned young people in pursuit of college degrees and world peace at the moment. To be quite honest, I seem to be a good bit more cynical now than ever before. That cynicism held for my last real class of the semester, in which we would have Maya Soetoro-Ng as a speaker. “She’s only coming to speak because she’s President Obama’s sister,” said my inner snark, which may have been right. However, I was to be blown out of my complacency and ennui by Ms. Soetoro-Ng and her message. The course focused on American identity and the American Muslim community and was taught by Ambassador Prof. Akbar Ahmed. In our explorations of what it means to be American, we had played host to many distinguished visitors who eloquently addressed us; Ms. Soetoro-Ng, in my opinion, now tops the list, and I only wish she taught in DC.
Now, follow this closely: Ms. Soetoro-Ng is an Indonesian-American born in Indonesia to a mostly-Unitarian woman from Kansas, and spent parts of her childhood in Hawai’i before falling in love with salsa and meringue and deciding to learn Spanish. She now identifies as Buddhist and is married to a Malaysian-Chinese-Canadian-American. Continue reading →
That’s the President of American University, Dr. Cornelius Kerwin, in the ‘white house’ on campus, of course. We had the honor of visiting him in his office this week to meet with him and brief him on the status of the project and interview him as well.
He was very eloquent and spoke very highly of the project. He congratulated us and called “Journey into America “likely to be one of the most definitive works to date on the Muslim experience in the United States”. High praise, for the project and for Ambassador Ahmed.
We were really happy to have that vote of confidence from the Big Man on Campus. Please see the video below for more.
The most comprehensive study ever done on the American Muslim community, Journey into America explores and documents how Muslims are fitting into U.S. society, seeking to place the Muslim experience in the U.S. within the larger context of American identity. In doing so, it is a major contribution to the study of American history and culture.
Akbar Ahmed and his team of young researchers traveled through over seventy-five cities across the United States visiting over one hundred mosques to discover the Muslim community in America.
The travels resulted in a film and a book entitled "Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam", both available now.