Mariam Abuhaideri

Associate, Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research

Masters Degree: Fellow, Master of International Development Policy, Duke Center for International Development (DCID)

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Arts (Honors) Mass Communication and Global Studies, University of West Georgia


Curriculum Vitae

Subject Interests: Travel, Non-profit development and management, Documentary film-making, Journalism, Inter-faith conversations, Photography,  Sustainable Peace, Violence prevention, Economics, Sustainable Development, Consulting, International law, International Trade

Regional Interests: Middle East, North Africa, Central and South Asia

In her own words:

My heart is Indian and my blood Iranian, both essential parts in keeping me alive. I am more Indian than Iranian,  but my perception is drawn from a combined Indian-Iranian lens.  My friends joke that the only aspect which is Iranian is the fact that I am always cleaning and tidying my apartment! So true, because Iranians are world renowned for spring cleaning even during winter months! But I would rather think of myself as a global citizen. I have been mistaken for an Israeli, Hispanic, Egyptian, and Pakistani. No one has yet been able to place me in my roots-Iran or India! This is a good thing, I hope. I am presently living in Egypt, witnessing the celebrations and the anger all in the same place.

Many don’t believe I am Indian because of my profession. If you are Indian, then why aren’t you a techie, they ask. And here’s a short version of my long story…

India has developed into a factory, where each year thousands of doctors, engineers and techies are manufactured and delivered to the global market. As in economics, the relationship between supply and demand is true for this cycle as well, and soon, the supply will exceed market demand; there will be a surplus of doctors, engineers, and architects competing for the limited opportunities in the field that they toiled for, during the first half of their adult life. This is the picture I presented to my parents when I was persuading them to allow me to pursue a degree in journalism and international affairs.

They, like the millions of other Indian parents were convinced that computer engineering was the answer to their financial burdens. I insisted that I would be unhappy, that my grades would plummet and worse, I would have to drop out mid-way through my engineering degree.  Is this the future they’d warrant for their only child? I had to attest that international affairs was a highly respected field overseas and considering my language skills, my passion for peace, and the knowledge I had gathered over the years, I would be an asset, valued just as my colleagues in the engineering and medical fields. Globalization- a word that didn’t exist in their lexicon had created this growing need for connoisseurs who would monitor, research, and counsel in matters of international affairs.

My propensity for the world outside our Muslim haven had always amazed them. Unlike my “normal” peers who would religiously watch the latest episode of the most popular soap operas with evil in-laws and the new abiding bride, I was devoted to BBC and CNN correspondents who’d report from war zones, and other international landmarks. The assortment of stories they presented was quite contrasting and I realized that I want to be in their midst and like them, throw light on the causes and effects of armed conflict, which all seemed very unjustifiable. I recall distinctly one morning, when I overheard my father arguing with someone at our door. My father was furious at the newspaper-wallah because he had failed to deliver the Sunday editions. It wasn’t until I intervened and confessed that it was I, who had been picking up the issues right as the man delivered them that my father apologized to the nervous delivery man. The Sunday paper contained an extended international news section.

My parents eventually surrendered to my tenacity, abandoning their engineering expectations. Hence, began my odyssey to reach my manzil, of becoming an accomplished international violence (because conflict is only dangerous when it is about to or gets violent) resolutionist- an unconventional profession in India.

Through the course of my travels, academic and non-academic discussions, readings of periodicals and newspapers, I become particularly concerned with human rights, the link between international trade and resource conflicts, international law, and the role of youth pre, during, and post conflict. I was particularly curious about the influence of new media in shaping public opinion about these specific areas of international affairs.  Following my exposure to youth who had escaped the LRA in Uganda, to victims of Burma’s military crackdown, and my family’s and friends’ experience during Iran’s revolution and the 2009 post-election violence, I experienced first hand the consequences of candidly speaking and supporting the truth.  I was also filled with abhorrence for the journalists and media outlets that disguise facts by either exaggerating or ignoring them. It is due to these events, that for the past four years, I have zoomed in on my teenage ambition to serve as the voice of those, from whom the ability to uncover the truth has been snatched away, with the hope that this will empower them to deal with the injustice they have been subjected to. I also promised myself to shine light on all sides of a story such that ignorance cannot be claimed as an excuse for violence and hate.

My burning desire to impact others has been with me throughout my life, but it became firm during my freshman year in college. I began serving in student government as the voice of my constituents. As time progressed, I grew increasingly active with raising awareness about global issues and human rights. I realized that God had given me a gift to speak, and that I could use that gift to benefit others. During the last semester of my undergraduate studies, I was awarded with the Dr. Bruce Lyon Distinguished Student Leader Award, the most prestigious award given to a student leader who had served as a positive role model for her peers. I had emerged victorious in my plan to globalize a university in the Western part of  Georgia, the flame of which is still burning brightly today.

My eventual goal is to penetrate into the system that was founded by the people for the people- politics, and serve the people of my country, as well as her peers. It would not be premature to affirm that I would begin at the grassroots and then grow into a brawny tree that protects, and is fruitful. To spell it out- I would like to serve as the Indian Prime Minister or Minister of Foreign Affairs to empower a youth revolution that would transform the current rusted system into a trustworthy community, draft unbiased and enforceable laws, regain lost trust from our neighbors, extend a hand to warring nations, build bridges, and continue soaring high with respect and friendly competition.

I am not naïve to the fact that this will not happen within a fortnight, but the time frame should not serve as a deterrent. Cliché as it may be “Rome was not built in a day”, the idea was however conceived, executed, and the Roman Empire became a reality without whom we wouldn’t have known Julius Caesar, Justinian, Constantine, Pompey the Great, Marcus Aurelius, Hercules, and Romulus. I pledge therefore to build a glorious empire of peace and love.

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