Since the beginning of Fall quarter, many students of the MSA at UCLA looked forward to the numerous events held during the Spring quarter. Some of these events included Ramadan, Islam Awareness Week, Spring Forward, College Day, and the End of the Year Banquet. Despite fundraising for months and holding numerous preparation meetings, all of the events many students looked forward to have been halted due to COVID-19. Furthermore, many of the MSA projects had to put a pause on their volunteer efforts.
While COVID-19 has been an obstacle for MSA projects and event committees, the resiliency of MSA UCLA students is quite admirable. Durana Saydee, the Assistant Project Coordinator for MAPS, expressed her disappointment and sadness when she received the news that Spring quarter would be entirely remote. She explained how it was difficult for her and her colleagues to adapt to the new situation at first, but the MAPS team has been able to successfully host virtual learning sessions through Zoom for their service recipients. Despite the online setting, “Volunteer turnout has been amazing and consistent,” stated Saydee.
While the MAPS team looked forward and prepped all school year for their Shadow Day and Spring Forward events, Saydee expressed her optimistic perspective. Saydee explained that MSA projects can take this time as an opportunity to educate and remind their project members about the intentions behind their initiatives. She further explained how projects do not necessarily have to help service recipients directly in order to make an impact, as she emphasized bettering projects from within by educating interns and board members can ultimately help service recipients benefit from MSA project even more in the future.
Like Durana, Farah Ahmad, Internal Vice President of the Beautiful Mind Project, was also disappointed when she heard that Spring quarter would be virtual. She was especially disappointed because BMP had been preparing all year for the Spring quarter events. One of these events included Self Care Week, which was transitioned to social media platforms. Although the Self Care Week was held online, Ahmad hopes the MSA community appreciated the initiative like they have been in previous years due to the immense benefits the week can have on the community.
Hanaan Osman, President of the MSA at UCLA, has also been working towards adapting MSA events in response to COVID-19 implications. One of the events Osman is working on transitioning to social media platforms is the much anticipated College Day. An event that allows students of various ages to learn more about UCLA and the lives of Muslim college students, Osman wanted students to still be able to learn more about higher education. Through the help of current students and alumni of UCLA, Osman explained that videos about different career choices and general questions about college will be posted on the MSA UCLA Instagram page. Osman hopes that by continuing College Day online, the MSA at UCLA can continue to increase in number and build an even stronger community.
Along with College Day taking the virtual route, Islam Awareness Week was hosted via Zoom to allow Muslim students and non-Muslim students to learn more about Islam. However, the challenge for this year’s Islam Awareness Week was advertising to non-Muslims and encouraging them to attend the daily events because of the absence of advertising tactics like Bruin Walk and class announcements. Despite these difficulties, Islam Awareness Week still occurred and Fatma Abdulrahman, among other committee members, hopes individuals benefitted from the inspiring week.
Another effort that will be posted on social media platforms is the annual Al Talib print issue. While we looked forward to hosting the launch party and holding a physical copy of the magazine that celebrates the 30th anniversary of the newsmagazine, Al Talib will be posting the hard work of their team members online to allow members of our community to read the amazing articles and awe at the aesthetically pleasing graphics. Additionally, the Al Talib social media team has been working hard towards launching the Quarantine Routines social media campaign. Through this campaign, the social media team of Al Talib hopes to bring our community together even though we are no longer on campus with each other.
While COVID-19 and its implications were very unpredictable and halted many of the preparations for Spring quarter, MSA projects and event committees continue to persevere. The passion of our MSA peers drives them to find ways to still put on events and continue project initiatives because of their true belief in the benefits of their efforts. InshaAllah they are rewarded for these efforts and the MSA at UCLA community benefits from these efforts despite being hosted in an untraditional manner.