by Lee-Ann Donegan
Ayesha Farzana Hamid ’01, B.A., B.S., lived life balancing the expectations of her immigrant parents with those of the world around her, and the confusing messages she received led to a crisis of identity, leading Hamid to detail her road to self-understanding and acceptance in her newest book, “The Borderland Between Worlds: A Memoir.”
The third child of Pakistani immigrants, Hamid and her family emigrated to the U.S. when she was just six years old and settled in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, a world away from anything that was familiar.
“I didn’t know where I belonged and was unsure of myself and my decisions,” Hamid recalled as she looked back on her youth. “I wanted to be American and also honor my family’s values.”
Hamid’s family valued selflessness, modesty, and the expectation that she remain insulated within family life, which largely ran in opposition to life in America, a place that values individual achievement, independence, self-esteem, and the creation of a life independent of the family unit.
“My family life was so different,” she said. “I was expected to be home after school and couldn’t participate in sports, clubs or go places with my friends.”
Hamid was able to find some common ground, as both American and Pakistani cultures place a premium on education and academic achievement.
It was at Chestnut Hill College where Hamid began to find herself.
“For the first time, I had a safe space to learn and grow,” she said. “I was able to spend my time in a community where I was fully part of the group and my thoughts and reflection were given value.”
The experience was life changing, she added.
Hamid hopes that her book, released in January, can help other adolescents and young adults who share a similar experience.
“I want people to see that everyone, even the quiet or confused child, is powerful,” she said. “We all have the ability to do tremendous good in a world full of need.”
Hamid now works with vulnerable populations to ensure they have the healthcare services and support they need following hospital discharge. She has also completed her M.S. in sociology from Brooklyn College, her M.F.A. in creative writing, and her M.A. in publishing, the last two she received from Rosemont College. Furthermore, she is the editor-in-chief of The City Key, an online magazine that features her writing and poetry as well as the creative works of her friends and other artists.
“The College is a place where students’ lives, thoughts, and dreams are of the utmost importance,” Hamid said, reflecting on her experience on the Hill. “My time at college will remain one of the most treasured times of my life.”