Amal Sayeh: Hope as a Shield

Amal is from Morocco. Lacking minimal social support as a student, she took the initiative to establish an active club in her university. She emphasizes the need for volunteerism to give back to her community. In her candid story, she shares how hope becomes the source of challenging bigotry and working towards tolerance and acceptance.

This story was recorded in partnership with StoryCorps and MALA for the MEPI Program at Benedictine University.


“I’m from Morocco, from Oujda City, which is in the East of Morocco, in the border with Algeria and I’m a senior student in University, English Studies and Literature. When I graduated from high school, and went as a freshman in University, I tried to see if there are any clubs to join to have these extra-curricular activities, but basically, in the faculty, there was like zero. Nothing. As a freshman, you don’t know what to do, it’s your first year. I didn’t know what to do, but as a sophomore student, just right after I came back from the UK, I definitely wanted to do something, just start a club, or I mean – I gathered me and 20 of my friends and we decided to establish a club, which is the first time to happen in the faculty, ever. It was an achievement. It was hard to do, but it was an achievement.

They voted for me to be the President, so I didn’t put myself as President. We started our work and now it’s been two years and even here in the MEPI program, I’m working on this, to make it like more clubs in the faculty, to have an active atmosphere life outside of the classroom frame – that’s my goal, basically.

People have this idea that if I go into work or do something, I have to get paid for it, but volunteerism is priceless for me. You cannot pay for that, it is something you do, you give back to your community. We all live in one world, we don’t need racism or discrimination, we just need love, and hope, hope, hope – My name. It’s a good thing, everywhere I go, I can read hope here.
Stay hopeful, stay kind, control your anger, don’t be racist, and tolerance. I think it comes from accepting others and at the same time, like they say, don’t judge a book by its cover. You should know the person first, and then you can say whatever you want to say. But firstly, get to know the person, get to know like, for example, us as girls, I’m a hijabi girl, they do judge you by your scarf. Judge me by what is under my scarf – my brain. What do I have to do, what do I do in my community, how I think, how I act, and react. Not just by my scarf. She’s a Muslim girl, you know, the idea that she’s just sitting at home, obeying her father, it’s not the same thing, especially, in Morocco. Maybe in other countries like Saudi Arabia, but in Morocco, I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s the same thing. We have a girl from Saudi Arabia, and she’s on fleek.”

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