I had the pleasure of talking to undergraduate students about what matters to me as part of a campus series on diversity. Students surprised me by their reactions.
…the event led me to have a couple of questions about what mattered to me. … I should have an idea of what really matters to me…
We read the My Name is Muhana prompt. Students were invited to write about their names.
Is an example of one piece.. Have you ever written about your name?
I could just as easily be a Fatima or a Zaineb. But I’m an Alisha. I have spent many years asking “Why Alisha?” Once for every time someone at school asked me if I had another name. An “Indian” or “Muslim” name. You know, something to compliment my exotic brown skin. “It is an Indian name,” my dad would reply.
After moving to Doha, I’m now more often Aisha. Professors will inadvertently drop the L even after years of classes together. I answer to both.
My name is the first gift my parents gave me— an empty box to fill with little bits and pieces of myself. A piece of them that I was free to mold into a piece of me. The name Alisha has roots in Sanskrit, Arabic, Hebrew and Germanic. The Sanskrit means “protected by God” and in Germanic “noble.” I prefer to think of my name as something that I define, instead of something that defines me.