Open City is an online magazine that takes the real-time pulse of metropolitan Asian America as it’s being lived on the streets of New York city, highlighting stories of immigrant neighborhoods that comprise one million New Yorkers and 13 percent of the city, but that rarely find their way to mainstream media.
Over the course of 6 months, I wrote 3 different stories focused on both the personal and the collective.
My first story focused on a Syrian refugee and baker based in Brooklyn as he attempted to adjust to his new home and rebuild the 30-year-old business he had left behind in Syria. You can read it here.
My second story focused on identity and its contours, sparked by an encounter with a stranger on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. As I walked home one night, a man stopped me and remarked on my walk: how “easy going” it seemed relative to the New York bustle. When I shared where I grew up, an island in the Middle East, he paused and remarked, “so you’re just an Island Girl?” This essay attempted to explore the roots of Island—both in my own psyche and our collective imagination—through a combination of words and doodles. You can read it here.
My last story explored online dating for Muslim women specifically in the desi diaspora, attempting to add nuance to an activity long obscured in my cultural upbringing. With this story, I wanted to complicate perceptions of Muslim women, and potentially create pathways for greater conversation around what partnership and romance looks like in the 21st century.
The fellowship culminated in a public reading and Q & A with all the fellows.
I am incredibly grateful for the community, encouragement and inspiration I found through this fellowship, both with my co-fellows (Hannah Bae, Syma Mohammed, Astha Rajvanshi, Mohamad Saleh, Nora Salem) and my Editor, Noel Pangilinan