Yassmin Fashir

Yassmin is from Indiana, but her roots are in Darfur, Sudan.

She and her family came to the United States seeking political refuge after her father anonymously co-authored a book exposing the social injustices in their home country.

Yassmin's family first moved to Phoenix before settling in Fort Wayne. When she was in the seventh grade, they moved to in Indianapolis. During her sophomore year at North Central High School, Yassmin was one of four recipients of the One Girl at a Time award. Sponsored by the Women Like Us Foundation, The One Girl at a Time program helps empower and mentor Indianapolis-area students. In 2013, she received a scholarship to accompany the foundation on a humanitarian trip to Costa Rica. This experience cemented her desire to become a doctor with Doctors Without Borders.

Description of the following video:

My name is Yassmin Fashir. I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana for the earlier part of my life, and Indianapolis for the latter. I'm an undergrad here at IU, freshman. I'm studying International Studies, French and Arabic. And I'm part of EIDC, which is Eigenmann International Diversity Council, and African Student Association. I think that I might have been around six years old, and my mom and I went shopping. And while we were on the road driving, I think we were pulling into a parking lot and some guy -- I don't know what my mom might have done or what he might have done, but he rolled down his window and started to yell at my mom. And he said, like, go back to like Iran. And I didn't really understand that because we're African, but I guess it was because we're Muslim. There was a lady, and she was putting her bags in the cart, and she was like yelling him, telling him that was not okay. And she started comforting my mom and telling her, like, well, America's not like this, and that was just this one guy, and he was angry, and he didn't know what he was talking about. By her doing that, it really reassured me that, I mean, they're not -- it's not necessarily us that they're yelling at. It's their perception or what they think about us. When I was in France, I lived with my host family. I had a host sister and a host mom. And one of the things that happened was they asked me a question, and I responded, but what I responded was "my girlfriend" when I didn't mean that. And so, for about like two or three weeks, my host family thought that I was gay. And so they had like this gay pride flag, and they were like, we're totally okay with like gay people here. And for the longest time, I just though, well, these people are really open and, like, I'm very liberal. And I was like, well, is someone here gay? I don't, I don't understand. And we went shopping one afternoon, and they showed me a shirt, and they said, this would look really good on your girlfriend. And I said -- this was after like I learned French and I was like, I was learning more as I went on -- and I was like I don't have a girlfriend. And they started laughing, and they said that they thought I was gay. And so even then, they were really, really inclusive and how they treated me. And I just, I felt, I don't know. I felt really good after that.

 

Is there anything that you've done or that you've done here at IU to kind of approach making IU-Bloomington a great place for everyone?

 

Whenever I see anything that's not okay, whenever I hear something that's offensive to anybody -- it doesn't have to particularly be towards me -- I like to shut that down automatically and tell them why that's not okay and have them kind of reflect on that. Because when they do, then they think twice about saying it again. I would love to be that bridge to bring together two different people, two different identities, into one single like thing that they share.

In 2015, Yassmin arrived in Bloomington for her freshman year at IU. She found a home with students in the CommUNITY Education Program, which fosters a welcoming and supportive community for all who live in, work in or visit IU's residence halls.

The international studies major is also a member of the Eigenmann International Diversity Council and the African Students' Association. Being part of these organizations has helped Yassmin address situations where people feel excluded.

I like to shut that down automatically, tell them why that's not okay, and have them reflect on that... (and then maybe) they'll think twice about saying it again.

Yassmin has also spread her storytelling wings as a participant in The Moth, a workshop and live storytelling competition where IU Bloomington students shared real stories from their real lives. She was later selected to perform at The Moth Mainstage in Seattle.

The Moth: Spotlight on Yassmin