Oakland is home to a thriving refugee community. In the past five years, 337 refugees have resettled in the Northern California city including 430 girls, 60 of which are high school age (according to the International Rescue Committee).
Last week nine refugee teen girls participated in a local program called The Vision Project held at the International Rescue Committee. The goal of the program is to help these young women think of their future, and envision a professional career for themselves. Girls were introduced to a pediatrician, journalist, architect, musician, lawyer, social worker and marine biologist. Another fun aspect of the program was that the girls directed their own photo shoot, where they put themselves in whatever career they want to pursue. So if a girl wants to be a doctor, the photo features herself dressed in a white lab coat at a hospital. One girl wants to be a computer scientist so she directed her photo in an office with a skyline view of San Francisco and a strawberry milkshake topped with whip cream on her desk. #TooCute
Growing up in Afghanistan, Manizgha Nassimi had dreams of becoming a dentist, something she knew would be nearly impossible in her home country. But today, she lives in East Oakland with her parents and two brothers and got to participate in the career program. “I already knew that after high school I will be at home so I cannot go to college,” says Manizgha, 17. “But when I came to the United States, I was like, ‘I have a goal’! Girls have a lot of freedoms here. They can do whatever boys can do. That was kind of surprising.”