Evanston Township High School hosted its first South Asian Middle Eastern (SAME) Summit on April 28, as part of the efforts of the SAME Student Alliance to create a safe space for addressing issues and empowering students to find their voice. The summit called “We Are Un-Boxable” consisted of workshops led by renowned South Asian and Middle Eastern authors, artists, and activists.

Anupy Singla, an award-winning TV journalist turned cookbook author and entrepreneur, was the keynote speaker at the SAME Summit. Guest presenters also included Jamil Khoury, the Founding Artistic Director of Silk Road Rising, and Chicago Desi Youth Rising, an all-volunteer consensus-based collective that seeks to empower Chicago youth to combat racial, economic, and social inequity. In addition to engaging in dialogue, students participated in a painting workshop with Sabba Syal Elahi, an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and cultural worker who focuses her art practice in fibers and drawing/painting.

Created in October 2015, the SAME Student Alliance meets weekly to plan events, seek out avenues where they can make their voices heard, and brainstorm ways to contribute to the building of consciousness of the larger ETHS student body about various issues affecting South Asian and Middle Eastern students. Sponsored by ETHS English teacher Anita Thawani, the group was organized by two ETHS seniors, Arooshay Javed and Sehr Amer, and has grown to more than 20 students.

Dr. Thawani noted that some of the issues facing South Asian and Middle Eastern students include Muslim threat, living in two worlds at school and at home, feeling invisible in our school space, and understanding who we are and what we believe as first generation Americans.

“We are proud that our students are able to lift up their voices and share their unique experiences through school activities and events like the SAME summit while also celebrating South Asian and Middle Eastern identities and cultures,” remarked ETHS Assistant Superintendent and Principal Marcus Campbell.