Lights Camera Action’s Junior Achievers | Alezeh Rauf
Believe it or not, she is only 18 years old and yes she has her head on her shoulders! Alezeh Rauf, daughter of Azra Rauf and Zamir Rauf, is a true achiever not just for her good grades and accomplishments but her good heart. She is charity driven and focused on her goals. Alezeh has always been interested in law, but never really knew what all it could entail. After interning with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee for four years, she realized that she could combine her love of humanitarian work with a career as a lawyer. “My internship also revealed to me the dire need for Muslim, specifically moderate American-Muslim representation in our government. For me, it is pretty simple – if I am not going to step up to the plate as an example of the moderate Muslim, then who is going to?” explains Alezeh.
At an early age she was instilled with the values of giving back to the community, the importance of education and following your dreams. From writing a children’s book to TED Talk, Alezeh has just got started, recently at a graduation party I spoke to this teenager about her future plans.
Tell us about your children’s book and TED Talk?
The theme for the TEDxYouth @ Houston conference that I participated in was about “I will spark a change…”. The Dean of Students at my school nominated me to speak about my work with children’s books and thus I gave a talk called “Connecting Cultures through Children’s Books”. My talk encompassed the following: my reasons for writing bi-lingual children’s books are two-fold. First of all, I am a firm believer that education is the single-most effective road out of extreme poverty, and the beggars covering the streets of Pakistan are testament to the dire need for social reform in this country. Secondly, as one of two Muslims in my class and the only Pakistani, I believed that involving my fellow-classmates in a project relating to this so-called foreign part of the world would begin to chip away at their misconceptions. I formed a club at my school called “Promoting Education for Pakistani Children” and began writing what became our very first bilingual Urdu-English children’s book, Biloongra, which was distributed amongst government schools around Pakistan. From there, my mentor, Dr. Asad Mian, and I began involving students and professionals from around the country and the world in writing more children’s books and spreading our message of social change in third world countries. One of the students who we involved translated the original Biloongra book into Hindi, and that book was distributed to schools around New Delhi, India. My TED talk explores the idea of using children’s books as a means of connecting cultures as well as as a tool for social change.
Share with us a few tips for your peers and how you cope with peer pressure, drug abuse, and alcohol issues.
The thing that I’ve found during high school is that your true friends are not going to pressure you; I’ve often discovered how “real” my friendships are this way. Most kids don’t push you if you are firm and confident about denying what they are trying to pressure you into. It’s only when you are hesitant or show “weakness” that they take advantage of that and push more. Honestly, it comes down to being secure in what you are comfortable doing and not allowing other people to push you around.
The diversity in Houston is unbeatable – which manifests itself into the plethora of ethnic restaurants around town. I love how you can explore a variety of cultures without ever leaving the city.
Tell us about the charity work you are planning to get involved with.
I am a huge fan of any type of education-reform charity work, and thus, in college I hope to expand my book-writing project to include new languages (besides Urdu and Hindi) as well as possibly work/tutor at a KIP-type school in Boston. Teach for America has always fascinated me, and maybe after college I will be able to get involved.
Lights Camera Action Houston Society News wishes this young achiever all the success in the world. We are looking to hear more stories. Share your Junior Achiever’s story with firstname.lastname@example.org.