Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Newsmakers: Roxanna Azari ’10

Roxanna Azari '10Roxanna Azari ’10 graduated from Wheaton with a far-reaching mission and the resources to pursue it around the globe. A double major in women’s studies and English with a concentration in creative writing, she won a Watson Fellowship to study the religious, political and personal meanings ascribed to the veils worn by women in many Islamic countries. Her plans include visits to France, Morocco, Turkey, India and the United Arab Emirates to uncover the stories of women behind the veil and reveal the diversity of opinions, beliefs and personal stories behind the clothing. While in India last year, Azari struck a chord with people near the city of Mumbai, where she organized a poetry writing workshop and performance with a group of young women. The Mumbai Mirror described the scene this way: “While the loud Azaan from the nearby mosque silenced the crowd of 50 women and few men inside the tiny hall in Kurla, the enthusiasm of the performing poetesses hung thick in the air. After all, it was the evening of Bazm-e-Sukhan, wherein 12 young otherwise-shy Muslim girls from Mumbra were standing before an encouraging audience of family, friends and well-wishers, as they performed their own poetry in various formats. The inspiration behind this activity, Iranian-American spoken word poet Roxanna Azari, stood cheering each of her students-turned-friends.” Azari says the experience so far has been transformative. “I feel like the only ‘certain’ aspect of my project is the feeling of uncertainty. The poetry and performance workshops have been truly eye-opening, and the women I have met along my travels have all given me a newfound sense of hope and strength. Currently, I am running the workshops in Morocco, and working on putting together a national show here with the U.S. Embassy!”

About Sandy Coleman

Sandy Coleman is the editor of the Wheaton Quarterly and Senior Associate Director in the Communications Office.