Working with refugee youth in an after-school program offered by Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society Pennsylvania, a nonprofit offering legal services to immigrants and refugees, inspired Tajnia Hussain to study political science, she said.
“That was one of the deepest connections I’ve had with the community,” Hussain said.
It also inspired her to apply to be Temple Student Government’s director of local and community affairs this academic year.
Hussain, a sophomore political science major, was made director on Oct. 11 after Taylar Enlow, a junior global studies major, stepped down in September.
Hussain wants to create an open space for students and community members to talk about issues in the community, she said.
While TSG was able to attract five or six residents to its monthly community forums last year, none came to their first forum of the 2019-20 academic year on Sept. 24, said Kaya Jones, TSG’s vice president of external affairs.
TSG will host another forum on Thursday at Treehouse Books on Susquehanna Avenue near 15th Street. Depending on resident turnout, TSG will consider whether to send its directors to community meetings as opposed to hosting forums of their own, Jones said.
“If a lot of community members don’t show up, I think it’s best that we focus our efforts on coming into their space…where an audience is already at,” Jones said.
TSG helped organize off-campus block cleanups with other student organizations on Sept. 28 and Oct. 19, said Student Body President Francesca Capozzi. Directors also handed out candy to kids on Halloween, and TSG will host a community fitness day at Pearson and McGonigle halls on Nov. 16, Jones said.
Hussain is working with Quinn Litsinger, TSG’s director of government affairs, to increase voter turnout in the 2020 primary elections, along with helping Temple students, community members and local high school students understand the voting process, she said.
“I’m trying to send the message that this position isn’t just me,” Hussain said. “It’s a reflection of the community.”
Hussain is the secretary of the Temple branch of United Muslim Relief and UNICEF x Temple. Along with her volunteer work at HIAS Pennsylvania, she has taught Sunday school Arabic classes, she said.
Hussain knows how to effectively get involved and make the most out of an event, said Elizabeth Mignano, the co-president of UNICEF x Temple.
“She’s really strategic about what to do and how to go about it, and that’s why I think every event she’s been a part of has been so successful,” Mignano said.
Colin Evans contributed reporting to this story.