Meet Storyteller Chofian (Juju) Abobakr | Social Justice & Peace Advocate | #raisedinSD

(soft music) – My name is Chofian Abobakr, my friends call me JuJu. I’m a student at Augustana University majoring in government
and international affairs, communication studies,
and a minor in theater. Well, when people first meet
me, they think I’m too much. (laughs) I’m very hyper. I’m five feet tall, but I’m
very energetic and hyper. I was born in Iraq. I grew up in Turkey and I
came to the United States when I was 13 years old. The Washington Pavilion
has been a big influence on my whole life. When I didn’t speak
English, there was a program that I was in called AASP. I love doing art and learning a language, and interacting with the teachers I had. So, after I finished the program, I volunteered at the pavilion, helping others do the same thing. And then, I started working there. And then, years later, they
won an award for the program from the White House,
delivered by Michelle Obama. And they were like, “JuJu,
do you want to come with “and represent the youth,
that are in the program”? So, I went with and I
had such a great time. I still work at the Washington Pavilion. And, through the Washington Pavilion, I’ve met so many amazing
mentors, like Rose Anne Hofland. And she told me that in
order to pick your passion, your major, or your passion,
you need to think about what can’t you live without
for the rest of your life? In every aspect of my life, there’s a sprinkle of social justice. When I do theater, I pick skirts that are about social justice. When I teach science, I
say, “Hey, we’re all equal “and the same DNA”. There’s always some sort of
sprinkle of social justice in those things, and so I thought, “Wait, that’s the thing “I can’t live without”. I can stay away from theater and enjoy it, support it, but I can never
stay away from social issues, from helping other people. This year at Augustana, I
decided to bring awareness to the Kurdish culture
and Kurdish conflict through a fun little celebration, it’s called Newroz, and we
celebrate it on March 21st. And the reason it’s on
the first day of spring is because it’s supposed to
resemble rebirth, rejoice. I think that when you share your culture, you plant a seed of empathy in other people’s hearts. So now, when they see
something in the media, like, “The Kurds are being killed”, or something like that, they’re thinking, “Hey,
I know who the Kurds are. “I have a friend who’s
Kurdish, that’s horrible”. So, planting a seed in empathy
in other people’s hearts by sharing your culture is the first step to
achieving any sort of peace. When I think about my calling or the need in the world that I want to contribute to, I think of children. No matter what kind of field,
what kind of career I’m in, I want the impact that I have on society to be on children specifically, or women because I know that those
are vulnerable populations and it takes a lot of effort
to help those populations. So I hope that in whatever
I do in the future, I help children. I love children. (laughs)

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