Zeena Mubarak

Zeena Mubarak headshot


Hey! I’m a Near Eastern Studies major, pursuing a certificate in Fiction. Most recently, I’m coming from Fairfax, Virginia, but I’ve also lived in Plainfield, New Jersey; Whidbey Island, Washington; and Huntsville, Alabama. Here at Princeton, my experience taking classes in the Near Eastern Studies and African Studies departments has definitely shaped my identity and my approach to writing because, as a Muslim girl from Sudan, I’ve always felt the need to work extra hard not to be exoticized. The reality is, no matter how academically I present my arguments and thoughts, the assumption is that I take everything shared in class personally and when I speak it is assumed to be solely from personal experience.

That reality has definitely bled over to my writing workshops, where I have become hyper aware of the expectations people have from my work. People want to read something exotic from me and the comments shared in my stories’ workshops, particularly pushing me to write about Sudan and praising me when I inadvertently slip in Orientalist language, has confirmed that feeling.

I’m a peer mentor, because I’m excited to help other students process what it means to be Other. I want to discuss what is expected of writers of color. I’m still figuring out how to write myself out of those expectations, and I’d love to work through that with other students.

Class of '17

Program in Creative Writing

Residential College


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