“The student group office represents a lot of my growth in university. This is somewhere I find I can stress, work, cry, and laugh all within one space. It’s a space where I feel whole, instead of fragments of my various identities that I feel in other spaces.”
Dahab is a 21 year old Eritrean-Canadian, for the majority who don’t know where Eritrea is, it’s a small East-African country. Although Dahab herself is not an immigrant, she would like to be a social worker working with immigrants and refugees and doing community development work. Dahab is a huge fan of food, so her favourite past times will either be cooking, eating, or finding new food spots. When I asked Dahab how she feels she is perceived she told me: “In the area of Toronto I live in I am perceived as belonging because most of the people around me look like me or understand that my code of presentation does not make me less than. I feel like I'm viewed as the "average/everyday Muslim". In other areas of Toronto and other places I have been to I think I am perceived in clouds of negativity either as foreign, suspicious, oppressed or stupid. To complicate it a bit more I feel the perception of me is not only influenced by the scarf on my head but the way I dress as a whole. I can see the difference with the way I am taken in by others when I walk on to campus in an abaya versus when I walk on to campus with ripped jeans and tights underneath. The airs of foreignness and oppression fade a bit but the feelings of suspicion, and stupidity remain. The scarf on my head has attached me to a religion and I love that, but others see this attachment and the degree to which I am attached as threatening, like I am someone that needs to be watched. I also feel like I'm perceived as stupid because religion and spirituality is something that I feel society looks down upon, and to hold firm to a religion, something that you can't "prove" is somehow indicative of my level of intelligence.”
What is your favourite quality about yourself?
"It's hard to say. I think it's that I'm always trying to look for the good in people and in life. By that I don't mean I put myself in a bubble and am naive to what is going on around me but rather I take all those things in and still chose to be positive."
What is the best quality in someone else?
"I think it is the ability to listen. Not just to hear but to truly listen and humble enough to make attempts to understand (this doesn't have to mean agree). Know that someone can listen make me more open to sharing."
What is a fun fact about you that you haven’t told me yet?
"I like to collect coins from around the world."
What is one thing you know for sure?
"I know for sure that I will never be able to know everything! That I will never truly be an expert at anything no matter how long I study or how much research I do. I have to come to terms that this is okay, and is actually one of the beauties of life. There is always something there to discover."