By Basma Humadi, Staff Writer
Henry Munoz, student, junior, Communications Major with a concentration in Public Relations
Q: What was your major? What’s your biggest goal right now?
I’m a Communication major with a concentration in Public Relations and one of my biggest goals is to one day own my own luxury brand.
Q: What sparked your interest in wanting to create one?
Well, basically I have always had a fascination with designer fashion. It’s so much fun. I love designing clothes that I can imagine will one day appear on my runway. My dream is to have my own brand. My own boutiques. I want my designs to be worn by artists on the red carpet and be desired by everyone else.
Afghan Student Union (ASU): Answers by ASU President Nilab Osmani and Vice President Awista Baluch:
Q: Why is being Afghan and celebrating that important?
We believe it is very important for people to be in touch with their background and heritage. It is a huge part of one’s identity and is something that affects every aspect of our lives. ASU serves as a great platform for people who want to know more about their heritage and want to celebrate it through our various cultural events. It also provides a great sense of community for both Afghans and non-Afghans here at Mason.
Q: What is ASU, what does it do, and why is that important?
ASU is a GMU body dedicated to an understanding and appreciation for the Afghan-American diaspora. We share a similar value in the acceptance and comprehension of one’s root identity. This may relate to many ethnic minority groups on campus, which is the reason for our diverse body, consisting of Afghans and non-Afghans alike.
Q: What does being Afghan mean to you?
Being Afghan is something special because it can mean something different for each person. For some it’s all about the centuries-old culture filled with beautiful clothing, history, and poems. To others it can also be about the food, respect and honor. Being Afghan to me means being a part of a loving community, the strong family bonds, and our mannerisms. Afghanistan itself is a huge melting pot and has so many different tribes that add their own interpretation of being Afghan. That’s the beautiful part of being Afghan – that there are so many things that make you Afghan.
SCAR Professor, Sarah Rose-Jensen:
Q: What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?
I’m currently a lecturer in the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, teaching techniques and practices of conflict resolution. I am also finishing my PhD in SCAR. I spent nearly two years in Cambodia doing ethnographic research on forced evictions for my PhD, supported by a Fulbright award. I worked in two different communities, one in the capital city, Phnom Penh, and one in a small village in the southwest.
Village life was especially interesting – I stayed with a local family and they welcomed me as a member of their family. But everything was new at first, from the way you have to bathe – from a well on the edge of a field, wearing a sarong because the kids and the water buffalo were watching – to cultural and gender norms that differ not just from the west but even from other parts of Cambodia.
Q: What’s your favorite place in the entire world?
Koh Kong province, Cambodia is one of my favorite places in the world. In a few hours one can go from the jungle, where I’ve seen signs of elephants passing and heard gibbons, to mangrove forests, to a beautiful tropical beach on the Gulf of Thailand. And for two years, I was able to spend at least one week a month there!
Q: Who’s your biggest role model?
In terms of role models, I’m not certain I could pick just one – I’ve met and worked with some amazing people, especially the women I work with in Cambodia. Their ability to be activists and advocates for their communities while still managing their paid work and their family responsibilities is really inspiring. I wonder what effect it will have on their kids, because they bring their small children with them to meetings and protests and they don’t really draw a line between their family life and their activism – it’s all the same to them.