The Arab American Association of New York hosted a Youth Dinner this past Thursday, April 28th where teens came together to discuss issues they face in high school.
Thirty Arab-American high school students from the Bay Ridge area joined Project SAFE, an organization that utilizes peer-to-peer training for youth between the ages of 14 and 19 to provide life-saving information. Through workshops, performances, and community outreach, Project SAFE initiates dialogue between teenagers about sex, drugs, and alcohol.
When I got to AAANY I saw all my girls and was so glad that they were there and that I was not alone. The kids from Project SAFE were mostly Latino and Black and came from different backgrounds than me. In all honesty, I thought they wouldn’t understand the rules and challenges my friends and I face as first generation Arab-Americans. Boy was I wrong, not only did they get where I was coming from, but they also experienced similar cultural expectations.
To begin the event, we had an icebreaker to kill the awkwardness and get to know one another. Then, we broke up into two different groups, boys and girls, in order to discuss topics that were more relatable to each group. What I enjoyed the most from the event was the role-playing activity. The activity began with trained actors who acted out situations teens face with peer pressure to drugs, sex, and alcohol. The actors then asked if any of us girls wanted to act out a scene.
We would either be the “presureer” or the “presuree,” and would finish the scene based on how we would react to a situation involving peer pressure.