When Tasneem Noor first began participating with NewGround, she was happy to see so many diverse and open-minded people, ready to discuss not only the topics important to all of them, but to get to know the people in the room and learn about how their faith was part of their everyday lives.
Born in Pakistan but raised there, in India, and in United Arab Emirates, she moved to Los Angeles when she was a junior in high school. She attended UCLA for both her Bachelors in English, and Masters in Education in Student Affairs. Now, as part of the student affairs division at Cal State Los Angeles, she is working with the student government to support student programming and advocacy based initiatives. Through various on campus and off campus initiatives, she continues to be involved in social justice and diversity trainings for the students. Through these trainings she facilitates dialogue and activities to raise self-awareness and understanding of different communities. With New Ground fellows, Rebecca Berger, Lana Daoud, and Andy Green she initiated an Education Exchange Program between Muslim and Jewish middle school students. The program is now in its initial phases of designing and implementation at the New Horizon School, Pasadena branch, and Sinai Akiba in West LA. She also sits on the board for Young-MALAC (Young Muslim Americans Leaders Advisory Council) as the Programs Manager. In this role, she hopes to use her skills to develop a diversity leadership training and retreat with a focus on faith and inter-faith dialogue. She believes that having an understanding of yourself and others is a prerequisite to affecting positive change in the broad community. For her, her faith has been her source of strength and motivation and Islam has truly become “the way of life.”
Tasneem credits NewGround with helping her to focus and polish her skills in working on faith-based issues. As she puts it, what sets it apart from other organizations is its’ progressive nature. It is not simply about an exchange of perspectives, but building something out of that exchange. “We were ready to address the difficult topics, but didn’t start out that way. In the consecutive sessions, we got to know each other as people. By the time we got to the trigger topics and the hot button issues, those conversations were easier to have. You felt a sense of growth and deeper understanding of both Muslim and Jewish communities.”