Meet 2018 - 19 NNAAC Fellow Sarah Risheq!

NNAAC’s Transformative Leaders Fellowship Program develops crucial leadership skills in select university students and recent graduates across the country through an ongoing partnership with our various member organizations. These aspiring young adults learn more about the issues facing Arab American communities, see how nonprofits are managed, and work toward creating a personal professional growth plan.

Get to know Sarah Risheq, one of our 2018-19 fellows, in our interview with her below.

Sarah Risheq

Arab American Action Network

Why did you join the Leadership Fellowship?
After moving from Jordan to the United States, I instantly looked for an Students for Justice in Palestine chapter on campus and got involved with organizing and activism around Palestine. My interest and passion towards justice and liberation for Palestine motivated me to work closely with Arab, Arab American, Muslim community outside of campus. I started attending Arab American Action Network (AAAN) events, protests, and rallies for Rasmea Odeh's trials. I'm looking forward to a transformative experience, that also benefits AAAN, and the communities we are engaging with.

What is your favorite quality about your host-site organization?
I love being surrounded by community organizers, because I get to learn a lot from them about how to work with community, how to communicate and discuss certain issues that our communities face under racist administrations. Being around and serving Arab, Arab American, North African, and refugee communities in Chicago land area is such a humbling experience that opens your eyes to the ways we can unite against racism, xenophobia, surveillance, and other issues that impact our community.

How does this program fit into your future plans?
I want to continue mobilizing around the different Middle Eastern and Northern African communities living as displaced, in exile, for refuge, or as immigrants.

What is a personal goal that you would like to achieve?
I want to learn the different ways you can organize around community. My personal goals in this program is to learn how to put together workshops, events, and emergency rallies regarding issues that impact us and our black, brown, and Latinx brothers and sisters struggling for liberation as well. Another personal goal of mine, is to give back to communities in Chicago that have welcomed me, that shared stories with me about life, and that showed their resilience and solidarity.

What is a professional goal that you would like to achieve?
My professional goals are to learn how grassroots and nonprofit organizations work and to learn the language with the system to offer services and programs to their communities. Additionally, working on the ground with organizers teaches minor details that matter to the bigger picture in mobilizing, organizing events, outreach and marketing.

Why do you think programs like this are important?
Yes, these programs are so important to get the youth engaged with communities that exist around them. It also creates a ripple effect of different types of engagements in the community around events organized by the organization the fellow is working in.

Describe yourself in three words.
Creative, intuitive, curious

The National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) Transformative Leaders Fellowship Program increases the capacity of our member organizations to provide additional support to their communities, while at the same time develops crucial leadership skills in the fellows themselves. The program engages college students and/or recent graduates over a nine-month placement with a NNAAC member organization. Fellows are recruited by NNAAC members locally, and in partnership with universities. Learn more.

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