The Agora Project

The Agora Project is to become a platform to educate, discuss, and exterminate racial stereotypes via the initiation of cohesive dialogue.

Photo of Aya Hamza
4 5

Written by

Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

April 29, 2003

Where are you located:

Miami, FL 33133
Miami, FL (general vicinity)

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Instagram: @TheAgoraProject
Twitter: @AgoraProjectFL
Email: TheAgoraProjectFL@gmail.com
Website: http://theagoraproject.com

Date Started

April, 2018

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Idea (hoping to get started in the future)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

As the daughter of both an Iraqi-Muslim refugee & immigrant, I receive my daily load of mocking "Allahu Akbar" while passing in between classes, complemented with quips along more serious lines, such as being told to "go and behead some journalists already", to not disclose the worst of it. Although, to my dismay, I’m aware that there is no quintessential cure to racism and bigotry, certain comments I'll hear throughout the day are not intended to ostracize me. Even if the way it's phrased may be a bit insensitive, many people of other faiths and/or ethnicities, truly would like to learn more about the customs & traditions of groups aside from the ones they identify with.
Just 2 days ago, one girl had asked if I was "Islamic", when asking if I was Muslim. We had a lovely discussion in which I explained the basics of Ramadan along with common terminology in Islam. ❤️felt understanding.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Racial tension has peaked globally and particularly in the United States. Videos of law enforcement senselessly arresting and/or beating those of the African-American race have surfaced, along with the tales and toils of Muslim women (similarly, my friend had her “hijab”, snatched off her head at a popular mall here in Miami), at the age of 14. Although no cure for racism exists, we as a society can make amends and bring change through awareness.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Evidently, Generation Z and Millenials are a diverse bunch. There are many misconceptions regarding faiths, ethnicity, and races other than our own. The Agora Project intends of implementing chapters throughout high schools (public and private) throughout Miami. These forums would follow the benchmarks of presenting PowerPoints created by myself, along with the team covering these 7 major minorities and how to foster mutual racial comprehension:
1. Arab/Muslim
2. LatinX
3. Black/Afro-American
4. South Asian
5. SE & E Asian
6. Jewish
7. Native American

I’ve created a Board of Directors, along with having gathered members of nearly all these backgrounds, and also those who are not necessarily minorities but hope to spread awareness.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

By joining their local chapter of The Agora Project, one will learn about the ever-relevant topic of racial relations through frequent meeting containing materials pertaining to stereotypes and statistics regarding a plethora of backgrounds and discussions about personal experiences with adversity and stigmas are to be discussed. We hope to also host drives for areas in Latin America, the Middle East, and locally. Sign-up is through our website “Join” link, signing up at a school club fair/through social media, or by contacting a current member.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Most organizations, wide scale and startup, focus on issues regarding race when it involves those who have faced severe consequences or are narrowed down to spreading a message about a certain belief. For example, the ACLU emphasizes the Constitutional rights of immigrants. The Agora Project aims to EDUCATE students about one another and their respective heritage before heading into the real world, in order to promote coexistence and to avoid the conflicts we read about in all too frequent headlines.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

A large sum of students have displayed their interest in participating in the project, and we have reached about 50 members thus far. From the get and go, I have learned so much about my peers and their experiences when bringing up the project’s message. I had created a survey in January asking people to (anonymously) recount their own encounters. 74 people responded, and over half of those who completed the survey said they were, for sure, interested in participating in The Agora Project at their school. For example, the mother of a Muslim girl, wears the hijab (headscarf). While with her mom, the girl was told by a grown man “she doesn’t need to wear that anymore”. A Cuban was told to go back to Mexico. Other responses include “that’s from the hood”, “you’re the whitest black girl”, & get out of my country. As racial remarks and prejudice(s) knock at their doors, they keep their cool.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

We are hosting our first in-person meeting on Sunday, June 3rd and are planning to have a summit open to the public in early September. There are 8-9 chapters we are in the works of creating, and may partner with the Green School of International Relations, the ACLU of Florida, or etc. and have applied for a $1k grant from The Awesome Foundation. Further details are entailed in the documents attached!

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

- Sponsors/teachers for each chapter
- Increasing # of members (already in the works, although we are interested in established chapters both nationally and internationally)
- A space to host our summit, which would serve as a “splash event” or kick off for the project!!
- Speakers
- Catering
- Guidance/Mentors
- Sponsors in order to fundraise and share resources with

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

I’ve engaged with both teachers and students, who have told their friends and family about the project. Through this, we are able to have our upcoming meeting in which we will discuss opening chapters (please refer to documents attached). As a non-partisan, non-profit foundation, we are open to creating change nation and worldwide. Racial relations is a global issue and the lack of thereof is an epidemic. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Linkedin, and Twitter played a vital role in the diffusion of our project into the sights of the world. Attending events and bouncing the project off other youth leaders was critical in our creation; in fact, I met one of the people I later appointed as a board member at a leadership summit at Miami Dade College.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Middle Eastern or North African (for example: Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan, Algerian) (11)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income community
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Word of mouth

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

A former classmate!

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 20%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 20%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 60%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 40%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 40%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 20%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 20%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 20%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 60%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 33.3%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 40%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 40%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 20%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

4 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Talia
Team

Very excited to see a project like this taking part in the challenge.  Best of luck!

Photo of Aya Hamza
Team

Thank you, Talia! We really appreciate gaining more members before we kick off, the link is here: https://www.theagoraproject.com/join.html

The work you are doing in Senegal is awe-inspiring!

Photo of Talia
Team

Thanks Aya! I will be sure to follow your progress :)

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