Mohamad Jaafar has a campus fan club

2/15/2019

The College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters senior says he doesn’t have a connection with everyone on campus — but our experience following him around for a day says otherwise.

If you want to see a social influencer in action, hang out with senior Mohamad “Moejay” Jaafar for the day. 

His reach is wide as he helps run social media sites for the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters and maintain department websites. But his offline social reach is just as impressive: Visiting table to table in the University Center, he greets everyone by name and introduces strangers to each other so effectively that they continue to talk after he leaves the conversation.

After following him around for a day, it’s clear his affable approach reflects the commitment he has to make the world a more open and inclusive place. 

“The more people you know, the more languages you speak, the more cultures you understand, the fewer barriers we all have,” said Jaafar, a communication and political science double major. “Global citizenship is important and it is something we can experience — if we choose to — right on this campus. I want more people to take advantage of it.”

And with Jaafar’s already well-established connections, he may just have the reach needed to make that happen.

9:38 a.m. The start of a good day begins with preparation … and coffee.

My first class today is at 12:30 p.m. But I have a bit of anxiety about being on time, so l come to campus hours early and find ways to be productive. I’ll answer emails, check in with friends, edit videos for work, review my class notes and drink my coffee. 

It’s always black coffee. I drink it in this cup from the 1990s that I found in my house. I’m not totally sure if it’s safe to drink from a steel insulated cup after 30 years, but I’m a big believer in sustainability. Until it leaks, I’m keeping it.

12:45 p.m. Take time to study what can strengthen you personally and professionally.

Professor [Margaret] Murray’s classes are so dang good. She has guest speakers and real clients. She teaches us about developing a public relations strategy based on good research from surveys and client interviews.

I’m majoring in communications because it is at the heart of everything that we do in our personal and professional lives. By studying communications, I’m gaining a better understanding of its role in social movements; I’m learning how communication applies to my personal life, and I’m learning how to develop communication strategies for companies, orgs and institutions. I believe identity and image is sacred and I’m interested playing a role in communicating the identity of an organization, company or institution that I believe in to different publics.

I’m also majoring in political science. That’s so I can be a more informed, better citizen.

1:21 p.m. Remember that a little bit can go a long way.

On the University Center stage today, people are making goodie bags that [student organizations] MedLife and Unicef will give to Children’s Hospital. There are so many great organizations on this campus. I know you can’t always join and do everything; there is only a certain level of commitment that can be successfully sustained. But there are also small ways to help. When I’m busy, I try to think about the impact. Ten minutes of my time could make a big difference for a sick child. When I think about things this way, I realize there is time.

2:57 p.m. Every day there’s something new to hear.

I’m working on short videos for both the CASL dean’s office and the Social Sciences Department. For CASL, I’m highlighting majors. For social sciences, I’m highlighting courses. These go on social media platforms and on the website.

In each of these positions, I hear so many different perspectives. Students share why their education will help them make the world a better place. Faculty talk about their expertise and what they hope students will gain. From making these videos, I’m learning new things all the time.

People let me into a little part of their world so I can share their experiences with viewers.

5:34 p.m. Learning a language removes the foreign.

I studied French here and there in the past, but I’ve really improved since I met Rosine in my Speech 101class. Rosine is from the Central African Republic where French is an official language. I told her that I wanted to be fluent, but wasn’t there yet. She offered to help. That was a big moment for me. I was nervous to speak with someone that I didn’t know well in a mess of English and French. But Rosine was glad to help. We’ve learned from each other and a good friendship has come from it.

The dream is to get good enough to make it in Paris. Understanding a language removes a divide and shows a respect for another person’s culture. Rosine said more and more people are speaking English there now. But when I go, I’ll speak French.

6:27 p.m. Agree or not, it’s your right.

In Amnesty International, we plan events and sign petitions to shed light on human rights violations. It’s a small way that we can better understand and show solidarity to these things that might not seem to impact us directly, but in a way do since we are all human.

We need to speak up here because other people in the world don’t have the right to. Freedom of speech is something I strongly believe in. Even if you and I don’t agree, at least we can openly express and debate views that people in other countries die over. Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are so important. I don’t understand why people attack this idea, but I’m OK if someone wants to debate it with me because it’s their right.

7:30 p.m. The day ends here; which is also where it all started.

My mom and I try to make dinner together once a week. We like to make a variety of international foods like sushi, stuffed grape leaves, macaroons and homemade Italian red sauce with noodles. Yes, mom makes the noodles too.

We watched Anthony Bourdain’s shows together for years and still rewatch them because they are so good. I really like that he traveled the world and approached different foods with respect; he never acted like it was this weird thing he was going to eat. Instead, he saw it as another way to be a part of the culture. That’s how mom and I see it too.

I’m definitely a mama’s boy; she’s a big influence in my life. My mom went to school at a French-speaking school in Lebanon. English and Arabic were mainly spoken in our home growing up, but — because of my mom — we’d get these bits of French too. She’d say bonne nuitwhen we went to bed. Mom would play [pop French vocalist] Dalida’s music right into the CD player and I’d listen. I was curious about what was being said. So learning French connects me to my family story.

Understanding culture doesn’t only broaden your understanding of others; it helps you better understand yourself and where you came from too.

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