When I began my search for internships, I knew that I not only wanted to work with a nonprofit that would teach me valuable business skills, but also one that would help me grow as an individual. While searching a website called GreaterGrads.com I stumbled across CAIR Oklahoma’s listing and applied immediately. At the time I was not too sure that I wanted to drive the thirty minute trip to Oklahoma City from Norman every week, but I decided to give CAIR Oklahoma a try because their vision “to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding” was right up my ally of nonprofit interest.
On the way to my interview I was quite nervous; however, when I left I knew that the friendly and relaxed environment was exactly what I was looking for. Growing up in a small Oklahoma town I met my fair share of nice people as our town was nominated in 2011 as Friendliest Small Town in America; however, I also met my fair share of people with heavy prejudice towards anyone not Caucasian and Christian. Attending the University of Oklahoma has been a great experience in that the campus is significantly more diverse than the town I grew up in. There is a student organization for nearly every ethnicity, activity, and cause. I have come to realize that the diversity and widespread acceptance that predominates on the University of Oklahoma campus makes for an environment I dream the rest of America could experience. Being able to accept others no matter their gender, race, religion, height, or major not only makes the campus a more enjoyable place, but also a safer one.
Through CAIR Oklahoma I am able to help with the process of leading Americans to be more accepting of their fellow Americans who practice Islam. During winter break I participated in an Oklahoma Scholar-Leadership Enrichment Program class called Comparative Religions taught by professor Charles Kimball (Director of Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma and a well published author) and through that class I learned a significant amount about Islam. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism all descended from the prophet Abraham. This fact alone should be enough for followers of those religions to realize that they have a lot more in common with each other than they may think. My goal is to work with CAIR Oklahoma in order to help others realize this and through that mature past the point of ignorance thus promoting their own understanding.
The civil liberties of Muslims in America are being threatened as they are facing a civil rights battle like those of African-Americans, women, and many other subgroups of Americans before them. Any group that has their religious freedom threatened and is discriminated against is a group that I would be willing to work with in order to ensure they are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. This is why I have chosen to intern at CAIR Oklahoma this semester.