In 2000, Marwa Adina found refuge in the U.S. shortly after war broke out in Abijidan, her village on the Ivory Coast. Just months after moving to this country, the World Trade Center was attacked. As a 4-year-old, she had no idea that for the rest of her life she would encounter Islamophobia, discrimination and violence. Now, as a first generation Moroccan-American college student, Marwa has discovered how to promote respect and love through her poetry. She is a woman of resilience and change. This collegiette has a way with words, and she’s inspired us all.
Name: Marwa Adina
College: Rutgers University
Majors: Biology, Minor: Women and Gender Studies
Graduation Year: 2019
Facebook: Reliterate Word
Her Campus: What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
Marwa Adina: None of my awards, diplomas or even trophies amount to how proud I am to be a co-founder of Reliterate Word, a non-profit organization that publishes monthly literary magazines for local artists. Reliterate Word is the brainchild of my good friend, Dena Igusti, and I. As poets, we found ourselves continuously having the urge to use our art to advocate for our trauma and experiences. Thus, we decided to create this nonprofit organization to be utilized as a stepping stone for any artist (writers, poets, sketchers, etc.) to submit his/her work to us as another way to vocalize their silence. Each month Dena and I focus on a specific charity (i.e., buying novels for a high school classroom, making sandwiches for the homeless, investing in feminine hygiene products for those in need, etc.). Thus, with every literary magazine we sell, we use that money to create care packages and/or help fund local causes/organizations. This non-profit has allowed me to be a better listener to my peers as I allow them the opportunity to advocate their own experiences through the public domain. I will continue to support local artists as I remain on this journey.
HC: What has been most difficult in your goal of overcoming Islamophobia?
MA: The most difficult obstacle in my goal to overcome Islamophobia has been finding a way to be confident and learning to love myself. As a Muslim woman living in the United States, I am faced with Islamophobia everywhere I turn. This plague had begun to spread to my conscience before I could even consider what it meant. Living in an environment where every terrorist attack is blamed on Islam impacted the way I saw myself. Whether it was out of fear, humiliation or discomfort, I never spoke about my religion up until recently. I didn’t want to be labeled and targeted as a terrorist. To comfort others and myself in public, I would refrain from doing several things that may form a relation to Islam and I. It took almost 18 years for me to love myself for who I am, despite what the world may label me out to be. I refuse to be terrorized and fearful of what others may think of me. I am not a terrorist. Islam has never condoned terror on others. I will never condone terror on myself. I am confident to be an unapologetic Arab-American woman who follows the religion of Islam.
HC: Why has your involvement with poetry been so instrumental in your life?
MA: On days where I do not have the energy to vocalize my pain, I write. I write to expose what cannot be expressed in sound. Art is the toolkit for creation. Through poetry, I am able to create a platform where I can recreate myself away from the stereotype I was planted in. Growing up in a world that has silenced my voice in the media, I began using writing as an outlet to document my experiences. Poetry has presented me with opportunities to share my work on a national level. It is my spine reminding me to stay unapologetic. I will continue to write for me and for the world.
HC: Who in your life most inspires you?
MA: “My mother is a tree…she radiated oxygen through her lungs, her photosynthesis produced a life and she was so breathtaking.” These were the first few lines of the first poem I ever wrote and performed. She is who most inspires me in my life. Despite the rough weather she has endured, like a tree, my mother reminds me to grow freely and embrace my natural elements. In a world where people undermine the power of a woman, my mother has taught me to keep in mind that without us there will be no logs to warm the hearts of men, there will be no breaths to take and most importantly, no life to produce. Through her roots, I remain grounded.
HC: What advice do you have for other ambitious collegiettes with a goal/dream?
MA: This is for anyone with a dream. This is for anyone currently living his or her dream. This is for anyone who doesn’t dream. Continue to grow. Believe in your potential. Be unapologetic. You will be hurt several times in your life––both by strangers and by loved ones. You will experience the lowest point of your life––sometimes even more than once. You need to remember; it is okay to ask for help when you need it. Most importantly, self-care is real. Self-love is real. Learn to fall in love with yourself. Know you can accomplish anything. Stay focused. I believe in all of you. Now, believe in yourself.
HC: What are your top goals and priorities post-graduation?
MA: Since I aspire to attend medical school, I understand the importance of self-care. As a writer, I will continue to document my journey. As an entrepreneur, I will continue to provide an outlet for artists to voice their silenced minds. As a human, I will comfort and support those around me. Today, I am learning to appreciate myself. Tomorrow, I will learn to love myself. Post-graduation, I will prioritize teaching the next generation to be kind to their minds, their bodies and one another.
HC: What is your favorite inspirational quote?
MA: “Every flower grows through dirt.” I remind myself of this quote daily through a mantra. We are all growing. Some of us may have sprouted already while others have just been planted. Love yourself through the process. In the end, we will all blossom.
HC: How would you describe yourself in five words?
MA: Resilient, passionate, friendly, articulate, leader
Gina is a senior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo studying English and Theatre. She was born and raised in sunny Southern California, which means she's an obvious Disneyland and Mexican food enthusiast. Her work has been featured on Her Campus,The Prospect and xoJane, and during the summer had the pleasure of working at Her Campus as an editorial intern. She is also the Editor in Chief of her college's chapter at Cal Poly. When not obsessively writing and editing, you can usually find her cuddling furry animals, eating donuts or catching up on the latest episode of The Bachelor.