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Prepare To Chat

As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, I’ve noticed a concerted effort on the part of individuals across political, ideological and cultural spectrums who are seeking to have genuine conversations about what it means to build a diverse human tapestry in this city and beyond.

Intersections has been engaged with several interfaith partners in an effort called Prepare New York which seeks, among other goals, to hold constructive conversations in order to shift the narrative from bigotry and fear to healing and hope. But a legitimate question emerges: how does one actually have a dialogue that fosters new insights, deeper understanding and constructive action?

Tomorrow (Tuesday, June 14) at noon, there will be such an opportunity as Prepare New York holds its first on-line Lunchtime Chat with special guests Maria Ebrahimji and Zahra Suratwala, editors and contributors of the book, I Speak for Myself which profiles 40 American Muslim women under 40. In the rich diversity of these stories, stereotypes are shattered and new understandings emerge.

It is easy to participate in this online conversation. First, become a member of Prepare New York and then just before noon (there will be a technician available to assist you beginning at 11:00 a.m.), sign onto the dialogue to “chat” with Maria and Zahra. The theme for the chat: what does it mean to be a Muslim American woman today?

So, grab a sandwich and share lunch with Zahra, Maria and other Prepare New York members as together we discover ways to engage one another across lines of faith and culture with understanding and mutual respect.


Maria is a journalist and Executive Editorial Producer for CNN. She is responsible for guest coverage and story planning for the network’s special events and breaking news programming. Maria is a member of the Asian American Journalists Association, and serves on the boards of the Atlanta Press Club and Tau Chapter of Alpha Chi Omega. Maria received a BA in Mass Communications from Brenau Women’s College and a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from Georgia State University. 


Zahra is President/CEO of Zahra Ink, Incorporated, a marketing and consulting firm for a variety of small businesses. Through this work, she has found a way to combine her love of writing with her desire to pursue projects that can truly affect change. Zahra has lived in Bangkok, Thailand and Cairo, Egypt and has learned to negotiate her identity as a Muslim American woman living both in the US and abroad. When she is not writing, she can be found causing a ruckus with her husband, son and daughter. Read their full bios at: