Spotlight on CASL Staff Member Asma Baban

November 18, 2021

Enjoy the following Q&A with Asma Baban, Research Assistant, Center of Arab American Studies and Project Manager, Halal Metropolis.

Name:  Asma Baban         
Position:  Research Assistant, Center of Arab American Studies and Project Manager, Halal Metropolis
Years at UM-Dearborn: I’ve been here since 2018

What does a typical workday look like for you? 

Not very typical! I work on several different projects at a time so my workday schedule shifts around that. The Center for Arab American Studies recently launched the Seen Jeem Podcast and prior to the launch we, i.e. I, had to develop a website. The last couple of weeks were spent designing and editing the website, and generally preparing for the podcast launch. When the Halal Metropolis exhibition was running I would spend days in the Bentley Library sifting through newspapers, photographs, letters, all kinds of archival material to use in our installations. Currently, I am working on the new HM website and an HM podcast.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I’m always learning something. I’ve gained an incredible amount of knowledge about Southeast MI and its communities over the last several years. Being able to learn from people within the communities has been rewarding. I’ve had unforgettable conversations and am thankful for all the knowledge shared.

What was your first job?

I remember babysitting my neighbor’s kids. They were super playful and easy to watch. I was also babysitting with my parents around so I don’t know how much this counts, but I got paid so some sort of capitalism was at play.

What do you do to relax?

Working from home and having a cat—or two—on my lap makes for a pretty relaxing day, every day. For the days when I need to retreat from structured reality, nature is my escape. There is a majesty in the way leaves dance in the autumn wind, a harmony in the give and take between living beings that never crosses over into greed, and a sobering reminder that the world doesn’t need us to survive.

If you could have any one skill or talent that you don’t already have, what would it be?

Being a polyglot. I’d love to be able to speak and understand any language. To travel and have conversations with locals, and not just ask for directions, would be extraordinary.

What’s the proudest moment of your life?

Continuously choosing growth despite the hardships that come along with it. It’s an ongoing moment because growth never stops, and I’m better because of it for myself and everyone around me.

If we were to create a UM-Dearborn playlist, what song would you want to include?

Because I work at CAAS, I obviously have to represent with a classic: Ah W Noss by Nancy Ajram. I’m pretty sure it’s a law that it has to be played at every wedding in Dearborn.  

What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I didn’t grow up with any of my aunts, uncles, or cousins around me. Everyone I knew growing up had extended family living nearby, but my family never had that experience because our extended family lived across the Atlantic.

What’s one thing you wish you had known when you were a teenager?

Hhhahaha there’s not enough room to answer. Everything? I was a kid; it would’ve been nice to know a lot, and at the same time I knew enough for where I was. I’m proud of the person I was, so if I had to, I’d wish teenage me knew that.

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