The fall is going to be filled with performances, talks, and workshops! I'm offering all kinds of art and events you can engage with!
I hope to see you.
More than 8 years ago I️ stepped away from performing ... Now on the eve of my 40th birthday, I'm coming back to the stage!
It's the day after Noruz, Persian New Year, celebrated by people all over West and South Asia and the diaspora. Here in NYC, I finally got my fire going after the blizzard and so many regressive changes since January put a freeze on things.
This is what's making me hopeful and what I'll be working on for the next stretch of time:
The Path Home: multimedia story project bringing out voices of immigrants who got a pathway to citizenship during our nation's first and only legalization program in 1986.
We're creating a public engagement format to use the video in a dynamically structured setting where audience members can enter into a conversation with the stories of the past.
Want to see this come alive? We need support to fully build the model, test it with our community partners, and take it on the road. Contact me if you can help.
Dialogue. We need it, lots of it. Reach out if there are ways I can help you structure, design, or facilitate community dialogues on pressing issues. Every group, organization, and space can do this. With a little attention and help you can grow beautiful new community connections.
Myself and a group of Immigrant heritage women are creating a series of home learning circles to build mutual support networks for immigrant and refugee rights. We need help to get this off the ground. If you are interested, we'd love to hear from you.
May warmth and tenderness enter the little spaces inside you and heal what hurts.
May those spaces sprout flowers for the new day.
After the whirlwind of fabulousness in D.C. I joined the team of the Anna Deavere Smith Pipeline Project to support the production of Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education!!
It is an extremely powerful and extraordinarily timely performance. Urgent and inspiring, it depicts the personal accounts of students, parents, teachers and administrators caught in America’s school-to-prison pipeline. Investigating a justice system that pushes minors from poor communities out of the classroom and into incarceration.
On Wednesday, May 4th the White House is celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Artists and Storytellers who've "used unique channels and diverse platforms to tell powerful stories, increase awareness around key AAPI issues, and encourage diversity and inclusion in all sectors of society."
Guess who's going to D.C. next week?!
On Monday, April 18, while SCOTUS hears oral arguments in the case against immigration action, I'll moderate a discussion celebrating our undocumented heritage -- and launch my new project - Documented cIRCA 86: Immigration Reform Turns Thirty!
My newest project, Documented cIRCA 86: Immigration Reform Turns Thirty (cIRCA '86) is an oral history and multimedia public engagement project that celebrates the lives and accomplishments of immigrants who were legalized through the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986.
As spring turns to summer, students and teachers look forward to some free time and head space. I look forward to expanding and deepening my knowledge base. Outside of a formal school structure, we can learn and grow through all types of engagement with the world. My summer plans are all about that kind of life learning.
Since my last post in April, I've been consulting with the NYC Municipal Archives to help them develop educational and community engagement programming. I've been working to dynamize the archives as a space for dialogue, a place to engage, to connect the city with the world, as well as a educational space. I'd love to connect with people re-imagining archive spaces and doing similar work.
Coming up next on July 9, 2015: Resisting Reproductive Coercion -- a discussion on efforts to reform abusive sterilization practices in New York City in the late '70s and the impact of that campaign on the reproductive justice movement then, and now. I invite everyone to come and hear about a little known, but massively important, piece of the struggle for women's rights in NYC. We will also highlight innovative and powerful work happening today. Free and open to all. 5:30pm - 7:30pm.
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
We also are offering a mini-grant for NYC teachers! Get access to exciting primary source documents from the Archives to use in your classroom! Send us an email by June 26th to participate. (see below)
Just so I don't forget that teaching and learning go hand in hand, I am part of two exciting fellowships this summer.
One as facilitator and the other as participant!
I am co-facilitating an Immigrant Women's Leadership Fellowship with The Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. The brilliant Director of Language Access, Azi Khalili, has started this initiative to forward the U.N.'s Beijing +20 Platform for Women. We have gathered 15 visionary women leaders who will grow their thinking, develop their connections to each other, and build their power to make change on behalf of immigrant women and girls in NYC. I'll keep you posted on what happens, but email me if you have specific questions.
I am participating in the "Innovative Cultural Advocate" fellowship organized by the Caribbean Cultural Center and African Diaspora Institute. We had our introductory session last week and I am excited to engage with issues of equity and true cultural diversity in all levels of decision-making around arts and culture in NYC. We have some great readings and I'm getting to deepen my work around decolonizing culture and imagination.
As always, I want to hear from you. Send feedback, collaboration ideas, your news, anything!
Yes, Father's Day is coming up and that's my dad. He's been my champion my entire life. Thanks dad, I love you!
Isn’t that a funny phrase? Given the events in the past few months, I hear this phrase as: Falling. — Into Place. The past few months have felt like a sort of free fall, a shedding of outdated ideas, a rearranging of my life and schedule, and a re-prioritizing of what I want. Things fell away, and I am right where I need to be.
Standing on the foundation created by the wonderful readings in London this past December, I am pleased to report that my play, Tree of Seeds, will have a reading in NYC next week!! Please come out to hear it, I’d love to connect with people interested in producing new voices, new stories, and non-traditional formats. Please come out to hear it, I’d love to connect with people interested in producing new voices, new stories, and non-traditional formats.
I barely know it’s Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanza season here in India. After all, being a country where the majority of people are neither Christian nor Jewish the holidays are different. (I previously wrote a little about Diwali which just passed.) But yesterday I took a walk in the paper, wrapping and trimmings market in Bombay and got to see some Christmas fun.
I’ve come back from Afghanistan about 3 weeks ago, and in another 3 weeks I am heading off to India for 8 months on a Fulbright grant. I’ll be returning to the country of my birth and the adopted homeland of my people. It will be strange to be back in a place that is so familiar but so alien. It’s like meeting a celebrity in person. You recognize her, you’ve seen so often. However being here, face to face, makes you realize that you have no idea who this person is and she knows nothing about you.
How do I talk about difference without putting a value judgment on it? If one thing is different than another, must one thing be better than the other? How can I value multiple experiences, approaches and perspectives while keeping a sense of self? Must I choose one as better so that I can hold on to something familiar? This project is different than the rest of my work in Afghanistan. I am not working directly with a theater group, I am working with media makers; writers, producers, researchers from Equal Access, Afghanistan. I am training them in methods of participatory storytelling for community engagement and social change
As I prepare to return to Kabul for a short project with the US Institute for Peace, I wanted to take the time to wish everyone a very happy Eid. May it be filled with closeness, kindness and a renewed hope for human liberation. May the best and brightest parts of your spirit shine. The end of Ramadan (marked by Eid) this year coincides with the Zoroastrian time of prayer and reflection for our dearly departed. The prayers we held at my parent’s home fell one week after the death anniversary of my maternal grandmother. As a girl growing up in India when she did, Dina Arjani was not to be educated past middle school, but her family relented after her insistence.
I was sitting in a café with a dear friend asking her advice on a community education project I am working on. We’re imagining the question, “What does it mean to be a citizen in the 21st century?” and we’re thinking of how to implement informal “schools” to develop poor people’s critical thinking and leadership skills. (I speak of citizen with a small “c” as in an engaged community member not related to national borders.)
Through struggle we bring forth the ripened fruit of a changed tomorrow. We never stand still; motionless as life breezes by. We move in the wind. Sometimes with it, Sometimes against it. Ever changing, we remake our reality. This past week I have been changed by the fortitude, brilliance and endless capacity of Afghan artists.
It’s that time of the year again. Spring is creeping up on us, new shoots are poking up from the ground and festivals of regeneration and re-birth are taking place around the world. In my ancestral part of the world, South and West Asia, the festival of Holi, (celebrated in South Asia) and Norooz (celebrated in West Asia), are coming up this month. Holi is March 8, Norooz is March 20th. Both feature fire, a meditation on righteousness and lots of color.