I wrote this speech (with a few typos) before launching Journey into America, which was screened at the Washington D.C. Convention Center. I ended up not even reading it. I was under the impression that we (researchers) were going to be asked to say a few words in front of the audience. This was never planned so I was never given the opportunity. I came across it for the first time since July 2009 while sifting through a stack of papers and figured I would archive it here. The trailer of Journey into America is below the speech.
Thank you all for coming to the show tonight! What a perfect setting, day and time for a film about this great country. Happy 4th of July to everyone! I think our forefathers would be proud of us all on this special evening.
This has been a remarkable journey FOR ME for 2 reasons. Up until one month ago, I was homeless, living without a door and a bed, and struggling to make my way on limited funds. I joined the Journey on short notice from London and had no time to organize a roof over my head. Luckily, I raised money through Dar al Islam, a non-profit organization that was fortunate enough to give me a grant to participate in this once in a lifetime opportunity. On this journey, I was literally a nomad, sleeping from couch to couch, from bed to bed, just to get by. It was a struggle, but I made it, and I’m forever indebted to my close friends, Robbie and Daren, both of who are here today, and both of who opened their homes with love and hospitality, just as so many Muslims did for us on our great journey.
I wouldn’t even be here today if it wasn’t for my parents, Debbie and Chris, and my gorgeous sister, Alison. Without my family, I’m nothing. Thank you for everything.
Thank you Dr. Ahmed for being the best tutor on the face of this earth. You changed me life in more ways than you can ever imagine. Thank you to the rest of the team as well. None of us would be here without each other. We have a great team and I’m forever indebted.
I participated in this journey not for fame, for exposure, or for notoriety. I did it because I care for the health of this great country and the preservation of the Founding Fathers’ pluralistic vision. We can’t be strong or united if we don’t understand one another. We must care for one another, go into each others’ homes and places of worship, and treated each other as we would like to be treated ourselves.
Hopefully this film stands the test of time. And hopefully, hopefully, its message will circle the world so people realize how great of a country the United States is.
Salam, Shalom and Peace to you all.
*LOVE, COMPASSION, TOLERANCE