Why I joined MiC: Zoha Bharwani

Wednesday, January 8, 2020 - 10:46pm

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Courtesy of Zoha Bharwani

My early life was split between the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Canada and eventually the US. Growing up in these nations with such starkly distinct, often opposing, traditions, languages, religious beliefs and cultural practices has shaped my worldview significantly. It fostered a need in me to find ways of belonging in communities that, due to ignorance or fear, initially sought to other me. This developed into a need to bridge individuals of varying backgrounds. 

The constant moving and adjusting to new communities forced me to find solace in isolation. Through my imaginary friends, I discovered the powerful world of storytelling and theatre. Eventually, I made real friends through them. I believe storytelling is the only way through which we can foster deep empathy for people who look or seem different from ourselves. Through storytelling, we realize there is strength and learning to be found in our differences because we’re not so different at our core. 

Michigan in Color is an incredible space for people of color on a predominantly white campus to feel safe sharing their beliefs, struggles, stories and art. I joined MiC in the hopes of using the skill set I’ve cultivated in directing theatre to contribute to an environment that uplifts our community and draws attention to our shared humanity. MiC has a platform and an audience for the stories of communities of color, and I hope to use my experiences to help build bridges between different communities of color. The work MiC does to use art to cross those bridges is incredibly important to building solidarity between different communities on campus. In effect, I want to use MiC to build on what I’ve spent my whole life doing: creating a place for PoC in a community that may not realize we belong here.