Hanadi is a public speaker in Minnesota who educates non-Muslims on Islam and hopes to peacefully connect non-Muslim and Muslim communities.
City: Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Who is your community? This may be a group of friends, organization of affinity or a geographic location.
The community I am addressing is the larger American community. The community I am coming from is the Muslim community.
Give us a behind-the-scenes look at your average day.
I wake up in the morning, dress my three kids up and drop them off to school. I go back home and have a cup of coffee staring at my yard, watching squirrels and birds. I get dressed and head out to a pre-scheduled presentation by the Islamic Resource Group, about Islam and Muslims in a certain city. I go, present and engage with my larger community explaining the basics of the religion of Islam, addressing their concerns and clarifying some misconceptions. I go back home and get some delicious food for the kids then head to my office to do the required reading for the week in preparation for my Masters degree in International Leadership at St Thomas University. I then welcome my kids home, listen to their stories and little struggles. At around 5PM, my husband comes home, we usually have a coffee together and catch up on our day then head downtown to the university for a challenging discussion on global issues. At around 9PM, I return to my home and spend some time with my best friend who has put the kids to sleep and is waiting for me with sleepy eyes.
What challenge in your life or work are you most interested in overcoming?
Establishing a clear distinction between Islam and radical terrorist groups.
If you could do any job, what would you do and why?
Public speaking and consultant on issues related to Islam. I want to be that because it fills my life with purpose to present my faith the way it should be presented.
What is the most beneficial aspect of living in the OTA region when it comes to your career?
People in Minnesota are nice and have a genuine interest to listen to others. I believe a lot of good will come from these states mostly because people still care about one another.
At what intersection do you live your life?
I live at the intersection of terrified Americans and hiding Muslims.
Where do you think good ideas come from?
Digging in all the wrong places.
What’s one current trend you think will change the world?
People often have them but do not share them. Open discussions start with one good question!
What’s the best way to put inspiration into action?
To contemplate on the projected success as if it is happening right now!
What’s the greatest risk you’ve taken?
Leaving my life, family, friends and career behind, in Lebanon, and coming to live in America with my husband!
What’s your biggest failure, and what did you learn from it?
I failed to adapt to life in the US quickly. I regret the sad nights I spent dreading my decision and trying to relocate. It took a long time for me to realize what I can and how big and important my role is. I definitely learned to wait for the meaning in the most absurd situations.
Who do you hope to leave a legacy for?
Muslim youth, including my kids, to feel strongly about their faith, share it wholeheartedly, and engage in open conversations about the beauty of Islam.
Who is the most connected person in your life, and what personal characteristics make him or her so well-connected?
Barbara La Valleur, she is my mentor and friend. She is a retired photo-journalist and Chair of Edina Art. We have similar career paths and share a lot on common interests. She is a powerful woman, very resourceful and outspoken.
Who is the most creative person in your life, and why?
My sister, Rana Chehabeddine. I consult her on every project. She is a great designer and always finds new compelling ways to present her materials. She is a true inspiration.
Who is the most community-focused person in your life, and how do they impact their communities?
A friend of mine, Nausheen Malik. She is running an after school program for Muslim kids in an attempt to address some of the issues they face during their day by being Muslims. Her dedication is simply unprecedented!
How are you engaged in community?
I reach out to the people around and make myself available for any questions people might have about Islam. When the first Paris attacks happened, I invited the parents at my kids’ Pre-school over at my house for dinner and shared the Muslim lifestyle. It was great fun, and we all bonded. Muslims need to open their doors for neighbors, colleagues and friends.
I have been awarded the Human Rights award of 2016 from the city of Eden Prairie for my efforts to dismantle misconceptions about Islam and build bridges of understanding.
I want to do that at a larger scale. I believe America is at a crossroad.
What project are you working on right now?
I am putting together a presentation that pinpoints the difference between Islam and radical terrorist groups. If the loud voices in this country start repeating specific key statements, there is a better chance for establishing peace and understanding within our communities and instilling doubts in demented terrorists.