AMWRRI Volunteers Testimonies:
Eugenia Afinoguénova-Professor of Spanish Language and Culture-Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
In 2014/15 I volunteered on behalf of AMWRRI to liaise with Milwaukee Public Museum and assist in the preparations of the exhibit “Beyond the Veil: Dress, Identity, and Tradition through the Eyes of the Muslim and Arab Women,” funded by the Wisconsin Humanities Council. I joined the project having only some faint theoretical expertise in museum narratives. Two years later when the project was completed, not only had I received a chance to test all the theories, but also to cooperate with museum professionals, talk to project stakeholders, and practice the fundamentals of public history. I learned to understand Milwaukee Arab and Muslim women while also providing a platform for delivering their voices to wider audiences. Comments that the exhibit visitors left speak for themselves.
Volunteering for AMWRRI changed my outlook and gave a unique opportunity to connect abstract knowledge with the needs of people around me. A pivotal point in my career as a scholar, this experience added to the work that I was doing a dimension of serving leadership reflecting Marquette’s key values. The proof is that I am now participating in AMWRRI´s next project, bringing together digital scholarship and public health.
Rawan Atari-Marquette University Alumna ‘15-Counseling Psychology PhD Student at Ball State University
As a student at Marquette University I volunteered with the Arab and Muslim Women Research and Resource Institute (AMWRRI) for the majority of my undergraduate studies. I spent a significant portion of my time interviewing Arab and Muslim immigrants from the Milwaukee community, and as part of the community myself, I felt incredibly empowered and comforted by AMWRRI’s commitment to share the voices of my friends, my family, and my community members. AMWRRI not only places great value on documenting and researching the experiences of Arab and Muslim women, but also prioritizes translating that information to the greater Milwaukee community in order to raise understanding and awareness about the Arab and Muslim community.
Through events and exhibits, AMWRRI engages with and connects different communities across the city. As a volunteer, I got the opportunity to speak about my experiences at these community events, and helped with the set-up of the “Beyond the Veil” exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum. It was inspiring to see AMWRRI translate their mission into an interactive form of art that could reach people from all over the greater Milwaukee area. I felt very honored to not only be part of this mission, but to see my community represented in such a thought-evoking and meaningful way. Encouraging Arab and Muslim women to represent themselves through their own voices, stories, and clothing, and ultimately feel empowered in shaping their own image speaks to the admirable influence of AMWRRI’s work.
Since working alongside other student and community members as a team, I think the dedication we all display through our volunteer work with AMWRRI speaks to the importance of the organization’s mission. As a volunteer, I am proud to be part of AMWRRI’s work, and even more so, as a member of the Arab and Muslim community in Milwaukee, I feel empowered and encouraged to continue engaging the community and believing in the influence of outreach. I intend to continue my volunteer work with AMWRRI in the near future because I believe AMWRRI’s contribution to the Milwaukee community is incredibly beneficial, refreshing, and needed in our society today.
Rawan Oudeh-Marquette University Alumna ’17-AMWRRI Research Assistant
As a student research fellow with the Arab Muslim Women Research and Resource Institute (AMWRRI) for nearly three years at Marquette University, I have received an impeccable experience. It taught me valuable research experience and helped shape my contributions to the Muslim women in the Milwaukee community. I have learned so much through the interviews that I have conducted with these Muslim women, some that I know personally, and some that I have never met before. Their experiences were very empowering to me as a researcher because I was able to perceive it from a different angle. Through the questions that I asked each interviewee, I received very in-depth answers, that truly embody
the traditional, cultural, and religious aspects of their lives. I was also able to hear their opinions on multiple questions that allow these women to have a voice in their community.
Through the multiple events and presentations that I have been part of, I have gained professional and academic experience. AMWRRI had opened many doors for me as a researcher. It allowed me understand the importance of research in academia and in the social sphere of our very own communities. Through AMWRRI, I was given the opportunity to become a Ronald E. McNair Scholar at Marquette University and continue my research with the Arab and Muslim women in the Milwaukee area.
I feel that I, as a student researcher, took away much more from this experience than I had ever anticipated. I also feel that I am able to better represent my Muslim and Arab community, because I am much more knowledgeable of what these women have experienced in life. It provides a different outlook on my community, and I am ever so grateful to have shared this experience. I hope to continue working with AMWRRI as a research volunteer, and apply to graduate programs, and hopefully attain a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies. This has been a career choice that was driven by my wonderful experience as a research assistant with AMWRRI.