Harvard Leader of the Week
For this year’s first installment of Harvard Leader of the Week, we sat down with Hajar El Fatihi, Madeline Hung, and Avni Nahar, three of the organizers of the [BLANK] Party to hear their perspective on the unique new event they organized. Hajar is a junior in Quincy studying Applied Math, Madeline is a senior in Winthrop studying Social Studies, and Avni is a junior in Mather studying Sociology.
What inspired you to organize a project like [BLANK] Party?[BLANK] Party was originally envisioned to meet a number of distinct but related goals. The first was to bring students together from all over campus for a fun and open dance party. Equally important was putting ownership and power over the Harvard social scene in the hands of women for a night. We were also conscious of the other parties that take place in the fall, and that many of them have a similar vibe. We were hoping to do something a little different, and so thought to do this party outdoors, in the tent on the Science Center Plaza, with a live band and a DJ, similar to many of the spring house formals. Finally, we believed timing an event like this in mid-October, in the middle of punch and competitive comp processes, would remind all students here that no matter which organizations they belong to or not, they always deserve a place to have fun with their friends on the weekends.
Who do you model yourself after as a leader?
Avni: I try and model myself after my peers who I see exhibiting incredible leadership skills, from my co-workers at the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations to seniors in Mather House. I find that the people around me are the most regular exposure I have to strong leadership, and I think I’ve learned more from all of them than from anywhere else.
Madeline: The leaders that I aspire to emulate are those who lead by example, know when to step up and when to step back, and above all, are engaged and critical listeners.
Hajar: My leadership role models are definitely my parents, my mentors- a few tutors, my resident dean, teachers…- and some of my older peers who took me on and taught me a great deal about building relationships, looking for the void and filling it, thriving to be a good listener but also a good mediator and speaker, following my heart and intuition, taking risks and assuming responsibility for my actions and decisions.
What role do you see events like [BLANK] Party playing on Harvard’s campus in the future?
It is our hope that [BLANK] Party will become an annual event, and part of a larger shift in the Harvard social scene towards inclusive, collaborative, and gender-equitable events. We would be thrilled if [BLANK] Party inspired other Harvard students to start their own initiatives addressing the issues they see with campus social life.
If you had one piece of advice for freshmen at Harvard, what would it be?
Don’t feel like you have to do or be anything just because a lot of people around you are doing it. There’s no one way to do college, and no right way to do it either. Make your Harvard experience your own. Take this opportunity to get to know yourself, who you are, what you stand for and what you are passionate about.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Avni: Hopefully doing public service work I absolutely love in a place I am happy to live near many close friends. It’s a vague answer, but an honest one! I’m still figuring out what I want to do and where I want to do it. I know I want to be helping people and society in some way, and I hope that I will be very happy wherever I end up!
Madeline: After graduation, I hope to spend a couple of years doing in-field research or investigative reporting on corporate human rights abuses in the extractive industries. From there, maybe law school, maybe not? The jury is still out. In any case, I hope to never lose a sense of adventure in what I do and to remember that people are the most important aspect of life.
Hajar: Hopefully, I will be back home in Morocco -or really close by- next to my family, but still in touch with friends, working on something meaningful and giving back to the community that has given so much already.