MSA participates in Run for Refugees

J’Mari HughesReporter

The Muslim Student Association participated in the 12th annual Run for Refugees in New Haven.

The race began at Wilbur Cross High School and was conducted to help raise money for the 68.1 million refugees.

“They’re displaced from home,” said MSA President Haroon Chaudhry. “We raise money for them, we run for them to show that we appreciate refugees in America.”

Chaudhry said MSA, which was created on campus in 2010, welcomes Muslim and non-Muslim students and tries to promote diversity of Islam to educate people on what their religion is really like.

This year, he said, was the first time the organization participated in the race.

“Our hope is to continue this every year just to support our refugees and make them feel welcome,” Chaudhry said.

Treasurer and senior Zaha Naeem said people gave away shirts to represent the event, but the runners from Southern instead wore their school spirit clothing.

Over 3,000 people participated and they included those from Yale University, Quinnipiac University and sponsorship businesses.

“It was a welcoming feeling, being able to see different, diverse groups,” Naeem said. “It wasn’t just a ‘race’ race where you have to want to come in first or strive to be the best. It was a nice, friendly race of different cultures and different people.”

Naeem said types of races such as this rarely occur in his country so for him to see groups of people come out, enjoy their time, and experience it firsthand, it was a comfortable sight.

“I liked that you didn’t know the thousands of people with you,” said club secretary Rachel Schaffer, “but being all together, looking at each other, smiling and cheering each other on, there was a good sense of community and I felt like you didn’t feel lonely.”

MSA member Dabar Ratupenu said his favorite parts were meeting refugees and getting to help people with the registration process at his own table.

“I felt like a VIP,” Ratupenu said.

In the future, Chaudhry said he hopes the event will be promoted throughout all of Southern to allow more organizations to support their cause.

“We want to encourage people to attend,” Ratupenu said. “Not just as a runner but just partake even if it’s just helping set up a table.”

Chaudhry gave a special thanks to his E-Board and said they worked really hard.

Community outreach member Asma Rahimyar, he said, had a connection to the Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services or IRIS, the organization that held the race, before MSA had signed up.

“The fact that we already had connection to IRIS, we were definitely going to participate,” he said. “It’s going to help us build good relationships with Southern and IRIS groups so in the future if IRIS is planning to do another activity like that they’re most likely to reach Southern because they have our contact information.”

Chaudhry said it was their first time racing so he was happy for Southern’s name to be put it.

“Our hope is that the next president will continue and that this will become an annual thing,” Chaudhry said, “It had to start somewhere and it started this semester.”

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