On her new blog, Zahra Arabzada ’19 is documenting her training for a 38-mile race this September in Springfield, Mass. The blog, titled The Hijabi Runner, also addresses questions, assumptions and misconceptions about hijabis, or Muslim women who wear head coverings.
Arabzada, who grew up in a “conservative Afghan mountain town,” says that “as a Muslim woman who chooses to cover, I have been asked a set of questions over and over.” Those questions — variations of “why do you wear the hijab?” — arise most, she says, “while I am running. I believe these questions need to be answered in a manner that walks the audience through my everyday life to humanize the misconceptions and prejudices.”
Funded by a fellowship from the Centennial Center of Leadership, which supports the design and writing of the blog, Arabzada hopes the experiences and advice she shares on The Hijabi Runner will help “non-Muslims gain an understanding for the issues we have, and ways to support Muslim women, and for Muslim women to choose an active lifestyle and be more present in their own lives and their communities,” she writes.
On campus, Arabzada is a biochemistry major, a member of Public Leadership Education Network and the HWS Running Club, a Resident Assistant, a tour guide for the HWS Office of Admissions. She was also part of the HWS Physics Department’s RockSat-C aerospace research team and is enrolled in the Leadership Certification Program through the Centennial Center.