Muslim Youth Project

From Kosovar Albanians to new Latino converts, New York City has the most diverse Muslim community outside of Mecca during Hajj. This is Where I Need to Be: Oral Histories of Muslim Youth in NYC is the groundbreaking collection of oral history narratives from the lives of 23 Muslim youth. The accompanying Curriculum Guide written and published by SPI curriculum experts provides teachers with companion lesson plans, reproducible texts, and other invaluable project-based curriculum resources.

You Can Support More Diversity-Driven Project:

  • $100 for digital recorders: providing SPI staff, classrooms teachers and, most importantly, students the opportunity to develop critical literacy skills as well as explore different cultural aspects
  • $225 for a SPI diversity book set: providing a local high school with the chance to read, learn from, and celebrate student authors from various cultural backgrounds
  • $1200 to sponsor a student author: providing all necessary funding for staffing and material to support of one student over the course of a school year in developing his/her own unique story

History: This is Where I Need to Be

The Muslim Youth Project grew out of a three-year long research study on Muslim Youth in NYC public schools conducted by Dr. Louis Cristillo, Research Assistant Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. With guidance from SPI Director Erick Gordon, SPI Program Director Kerry McKibbin, and teachers Nisrin Elamin, Ann Hawley and Amina Tawasil, this diverse group of students learned the intensive interviewing, writing, editing, and publishing processes that go into producing a noteworthy anthology.

Documenting the real-life stories of their Muslim peers in public high schools, this nuanced collection offers readers a glimpse into the life of a budding fashion designer, an aspiring journalist, and a teenager converting from Judaism – to name a few. What's clear from the first page to the last: these are voices of teenagers living ordinary lives at a time when being Muslim can provoke "extraordinary" reactions from classmates and teachers, from friends and strangers, or even from one's own family and kin. These authors share with the world what it means to be a young Muslim in a post-9/11 America.

Click here to see the full text of "Where I Need to Be"

Curriculum Guide: This is Where I Need to Be: Oral Histories of Muslim Youth in NYC

About one in ten students in New York City's public schools are Muslim - nearly 100,000 in all. This curriculum guide for the oral history collection, This Is Where I Need To Be [HYPERLINK] gives educators the tools to facilitate informed discussions about Islam and to explore themes witnessed by Muslim students. These include the cultural diversity of Muslim communities in the United States; media bias and Islamophobia; negative stereotypes and the role of education in promoting tolerance; the role of American cultural and civic values shaping Muslim identity; and the impact of peer pressure on the lives and attitudes of American Muslim youth. It includes visual aids for teachers to reproduce and include in their lessons.

The curriculum guide features five lesson plans and companion materials that can be taught over the course of one or two sessions, a semester or a year. Students are prompted to research the lives of notable historical, political and cultural figures that happen to be Muslim; build their own “identity charts”; and analyze media coverage of stories related to Islam. The guide also has tips for students on how to write oral histories. Each lesson addresses the academic standards drawn from the Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning content guide and can be used in language arts, English, history and social studies classes. Check out the Companion website.