**FYI: Video 4 is a SPONTANEOUS POEM I asked Dawn to create! Let us know your thoughts on this post in the comments below! Thanks, have a HOPE-y day!**
Hot off the presses!
My wife has just returned from teaching a class at Simpson University. What's the class? It's What is Islam? I asked her how her class was, and as I heard her respond with passionate and purpose-filled sentiments, I had the thought: I should interview Dawn! It's an especially timely interview considering today is September 11th. Dawn's heart moves at the opportunity to share on Islam, the Middle East, and how to understand those topics. She draws upon her education in Middle-Eastern studies (master's degree), her time living in Israel and Palestine, and the work she's done with Canon Andrew White in Iraq (before, during, and after her visit there in 2011).
A note: I decided to conduct a written interview, but as we progressed, we realized we'd rather proceed with the video format. We had some technical difficulties as we recorded, so we split the interview into 4 parts. I thank you in advance for bearing with us through the tech-blips. It'll be well worth it. Dawn shares compelling insight and wisdom you won't want to miss.
Neel: How did it feel to awaken this morning, knowing that you'd be teaching What is Islam on September 11th?
Dawn: It felt like a joyful, full-circle journey from the place I was at on September 11th, 2001. I felt excited to further bridge the gap between many Americans ideas of Islam and the realities of Islam.
Neel: Speaking of that day in 2001, where were you?
Dawn: I was in graduate school in Southern California. I was awakened a little bit before 7 a.m. by a friend's wild knock on my door followed by her coming through the unlocked door and then my bedroom and then blurting out to me: "Dawn, you have to get up! A plane flew into the World Trade Center!"
Neel: What were you studying?
Dawn: I was working on a master's in religion.
Neel: That must have been a bit startling to have that happen. What were your thoughts upon your friend's whirlwind entrance?
Dawn: Since my friend at that time had a tendency to be quite dramatic, I shrugged it off. So, it wasn't until about 20 minutes later when my roommate called me from work and explained more of the details to me that I threw myself out of my bed onto my couch in the living room and turned on the TV.
Neel: And, in bridging that place and time you were in then, as a student, to now, 14 years later, as a professor actually teaching on related themes, how do you feel?
Dawn: I feel expressly thankful that I've been able to 1). get to know Islam more firsthand by living in the middle east for 3 years and 2). in addition to the degree I was working on then, I've completed two masters degrees since then, one of which is a Master's in Middle Eastern Cultures and Religions -- both of which have allowed me to be further equipped to communicate the cultural and religious nuances of Islam and its myriad forms.