MIST Diaries: D.C. Takes Third Place Overall in Toronto

Community News

Photo courtesy of MIST

SEE: D.C. MIST’s 23 awards

The 2012 Muslim Interscholastic Tournament (MIST) Nationals tournament took place this weekend, ranging from July 6-8, 2012 in Toronto. The Washington D.C. region sent a team of more than 90 high school competitors, coaches, organizers and volunteers to the competition, hoping to win first place overall for the third year in a row. In the end, the bright young competitors of D.C. took home the third place trophy, with New York winning second and Toronto taking first.

All in all, the students enjoyed the experience, and three interns from the Muslim Link, Aisha Khatib, Urooj Fatima, and Anhar Karim, documented their thoughts in diaries all weekend.

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Anhar Karim:
MIST Nationals 2012 in Toronto, Canada. It was finally here. I’d been waiting for this event ever since regionals. MIST offered bus transportation there, but I ended up driving there with my parents. On the way there we met up with some of our cousins and other family in New York. As I spent time with them I thought about the history of our family and everything that we were. I thought about how because of my family’s past, I am what I am today. At that moment my family amazed me, and that is exactly the spirit behind this year’s MIST theme: Family.

Urooj Fatima:
Though our group from DC MIST had been together since 7 p.m. the night before, our official three-day journey to Toronto really got rolling early on Friday morning. Our two buses stoped at a Sheetz in Pennsylvania and everone eagerly got off to take a break. Many of the sisters I was with rushed to the bathoom, while the hungry brothers started browsing the food in the vending machines and convenience store. After everyone had used the bathrooms, made wudu, and finalized their purchases, we all prayed Fajr outside on the gravel in one big group.

Aisha Khatib:
We make pit stop number one at Fajr time, about three hours from the University of Maryland. The lady behind the counter at the convenience store ogles us as the 90-person strong MIST crew descends upon the aisles and the bathrooms to make wudu. We pray in the parking lot, foreheads on the gravel, as curious early-morning visitors look on.

After Fajr, the bus rockets down the highway, streetlights whizzing by the windows and sending flashes of light in every direction. Slowly, one by one as the dawn progresses, each girl drops off to sleep, and silence over takes the bus.

Urooj Fatima:
Our journey across the Canadian border at Niagara Falls was speedy and pleasant, both coming as a surprise to our bus drivers. As we were in line showing our passports and filing through the building, the Canadian officials asked us if we had pepper spray to defend ourselves, which I thought was a joke at first. I mean, who actually carries pepper spray? It was good that we filed through the building so fast. We were supposed to make a quick stop at Niagara Falls for a group picture, but we were running late so we decided to head over directly to the Seneca Newnham Residence and Conference Center in Toronto, where we were staying.

Anhar Karim:
After what seemed like 37 years, and after some particularly unkind border patrol treatment, we arrived in Toronto, Canada. But where on Earth was the hotel we were staying at? Our family, stressed to get there in time for jumah, spent over an hour going up and down one street looking for it. Finally we asked the help of one Canadian human rights group that had an office nearby. They looked up the place online, and it turned out that we had the wrong address.

After some confusion, finally we had reached the Seneca Newnham Residence. We were sure that at this point, jumah was long gone. But when we drove up to park, we saw many Muslim looking people surrounding the area. We quickly went in to see jummuah happening in the room to the right. It was literally a miracle of God, and it set the scene for the rest of MIST.

Aisha Khatib: 
After a long, 12-hour bus ride, the girls file in to the hotel. Tired, sleep-deprived, and anxious, we wait for the bathrooms to prepare for jumah.

Urooj Fatima:
After the long, 12-hour ride, we finally arrived to our hotel hoping to rest, take a shower, and eat. Unfortunately we were told that our rooms were not ready, and that we had to check in later. So in order to make it to Jumah on time, we all made wudu and changed in the few public bathrooms accessible to us and gathered for prayer in a conference room in a lobby of the hotel. While we were waiting for the Jumah adhan, many competitors, including myself, took the opportunity to buy food from a Subway in the hotel cafeteria. We ate our food while waiting for further instructions.

Anhar Karim:
As soon as the prayer ended, a man got up, and, in just the Canadian accent I would imagine, he said, “Welcome to Toronto.” He explained how soon buses would be coming to transport the basketball players to the Hoopdome sports center (or “centre” I suppose).

He said that those not in the teams didn’t have to go, but could come to watch. But of course Tara Mohammed, the associate director of D.C. MIST, made sure that D.C. came to support our teams. This was the first example of why you just could not compete with the DC MIST spirit.

My excitement was heavily countered by the exhaustion of my fellow teammates. Apparently it had been a long and exhausting bus ride with only a slice of pizza for food and no sleep. Although this did not damper the awesomeness that was MIST, we would soon learn that Team D.C. ran on spirit. Food or sleep was unnecessary.

Aisha Khatib:
“Hustle, get to it! D.C., let’s do it!” chant the spectators. We’ve overtaken the bleachers, and it’s as if no other team can get a cheer in edgewise. Shrieks fill the air as the ball whooshes the net and cameras flash in the bleachers. After the games, which end in disappointment, D.C. MIST director Adam Kareem gives us a pep talk: “We’re a family,” he tells us after the brothers have gotten off the court. “We need to support each other.” Encouraged and determined, the girls head to the court.

Urooj Fatima:
I'm glad I ate at Subway because we were immediately take to the MIST basketball tournament, which was scheduled  for the afternoon and evening. At the basketball tournament, which was taking place in a convereted airplane hangar renamed, "the Hoopdome," there was no air conditioning, and we all suffered from dehydration in the blazing, sweltering 95-degree heat. Still, we sat chanting for our basketball teams for most of the next six hours.

Anhar Karim:
As soon as me and two friends entered the courts to watch the teams play, I was informed that my own Montgomery County team was already out. We still had a DC team to cheer for. We were playing against a New York team, and our crowds were going ballistic cheering. On the first day of MIST, and even after an exhausting bus ride, you couldn’t stop the power of DC MIST spirit.

Finally the time came for D.C. brothers lunch! We got our burrito/sandwich/reasonably edible substance and devoured it. To be honest, most of the brothers weren’t quite sure what the strange substance was, but we were sure that we were hungry.

During lunch I met up with a brother from Boston, Shareef. He told us how Boston only came with five people. I was amazed; I guess I just assumed that the other regions would be as large as D.C. was. But quickly, me and Shareef got to talking, and I understood how great MIST was. This event brought Muslims together from all over North America, and I began to meet people I would have otherwise never heard of. I began to see talent I would have otherwise never noticed. And I learned things I would have otherwise never cared about.

Off in a corner, a crowd was coming together in a circle. When we went over, we saw that a rap battle had begun between Boston and New York. Boston soon left the field, and that’s when D.C. stepped in. The rap battle between DC and New York was intense. The two teams were definitely a match for each other, by size and talent. My friend Shahzeb stepped in many times to defend the great D.C. name. On the bus ride back to the hotel. there was a sentiment among the D.C. brothers that New York had won this battle. There must be retaliation.

Urooj Fatima:
At some point in the late afternoon, we were served a late lunch of shawarmas. The lunch was bland and oily, but everyone ate it regardless, because we were so hungry. After 11 p.m., fatigued and sweaty to say the least, we finally boarded our buses to go back to our hotel. Once back at the Seneca Newnham, we finally got access to our rooms, and we all finally got to rest up and relax and use the showers. For the first time in what seemed like forever, my friends and I decided to order some real food. So we had Chinese food delivered to the hotel. We went to bed at around 1:30 a.m. and quickly fell asleep, setting our alarms for fajr, which was in just a couple of hours.

Aisha Khatib:
It’s been a long, long day and we’ve just gotten to our rooms. However, none of us consider going to sleep. We’ve got projects to review, Bowl to study for, and a long day of competitions to get excited for.

Anhar Karim:
Once we got back to the hotel, we entered the rooms and, to our surprise, they were actually very nice. Then my dad called and I went down to the parking lot to meet him. My parents had brought me Bengali food for dinner. Being Bengali I knew I could not have survived the night with the strange burrito meal I had been fed, and I was glad to have some rice for dinner. Without it I don’t know if I could have gone on. Once I went back inside the hotel, the time was already passed midnight, and all of us MISTers had no apparent plans on sleeping. People were running around, talking, and practicing for the next day’s competitions. Among them were groups of people trying to see if there was any way of finding food.


Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Anhar Karim:
At 2 a.m., we again attempted to rest, but then my friend Rakeen entered with two boxes of pizza. We followed Rakeen downstairs to the lobby and still found that many people were awake and active. We ate two slices of pizza, talked with some people, and then finally, after watching some strange Canadian television, retired for the night.

Aisha Khatib:
It is 3:30 a.m., and I’m swaying in my seat downstairs in the hotel lobby, trying to focus on my scholastic bowl packet, “Mothers of the Believers.” One of my teammates says my name, firmly. “You need to go to sleep,” she orders me. “Go upstairs, now, and sleep. We’ll wake you up for fajr.” I rub my eyes and decide to comply.

I’m downstairs again after about 45 minutes of sleep, this time to pray fajr. We pray wearily, and I head back up to my room at 5:00. Crashing on my bed, I tell my roommate to wake me up at 5:30. I get up again at 6:15.

Urooj Fatima:
Surprisingly, no one's alarm went off for fajr at 4:30! When we woke up, we hurriedly prayed and got ready as quickly as we could. Then we went downstairs to eat breakfast in the hotel cafeteria. The breakfast, which was served in a buffet style, was actually really good and DC MIST had the whole cafeteria crowded. I kind of felt bad for the other random people who were trying to enjoy a quiet breakfast. On a side note, looking around the cafeteria, I noticed how the entire D.C. team looked like a family. Saturday was the day we all wore our DC MIST shirts, so we looked really unified. Our huge family boarded the two buses and made our way to the University of Toronto, St. George campus, where the bulk of MIST competitions were taking place.

Anhar Karim:
After waking up for fajr, then going back to sleep, we woke up to the Canadian morning of MIST Day 2. And what a strange morning it was. I woke up and walked into the kitchen to see Rakeen passed out in a chair. We went down for breakfast at 7 a.m. Downstairs, the cafeteria was packed with MISTers all eating their breakfast. We ate quickly and began planning ahead for today. Today would be the day most competitions would happen; we had to be on top of our game to win. With barely any food or sleep in our system, we again knew that DC MIST spirit would be keeping us alive.

After an hour we loaded the DC bus and made our way to the University of Toronto, St. George. On the brothers’ bus we managed to come up with about one and half chants for the upcoming day. Once we got off the bus we immediately began chanting, proud of our creative work. That is when we met with the D.C. sisters and saw that they had made about 8 chants. As we made our way to orientation we got the group to do the few brothers’ chants we had, but we were mostly doing the now about 9 sisters’ chants. It seemed that they were actually making new chants while chanting. If D.C. won anything it would be because of our sisters.

Aisha Khatib:
I am now at orientation. Tiredness evaporates as that combination of sickening nerves and overwhelming excitement replaces it. There’s something about your voice when it comes to MIST – suddenly you become your absolute loudest. It’s exhilarating to hear your lone voice begin a chant, unplanned, and hear thirty or forty voices respond, more joining with every repetition.

Anhar Karim:
Finally we got to the orientation room and it was packed with regions chanting their hearts out. Everyone was mostly energized after a long(ish) night sleep. Everyone wanted to make sure their region’s voices were heard. Chicago, Atlanta, Toronto, Boston, D.C., and, many others all engaged in an epic chant battle. Toronto came up with the creative, “FREE HEALTHCARE.” And then the D.C. sisters proceeded to lead the group through their tenth new chant of the morning.

Urooj Fatima:
Since I had no competitions, I followed the scholastic bowl team from Eleanor Roosevelt High School around to support them in their various competitions. ER was getting crushed so badly at first that no one expected them to get as far as they did. Watching bowl was really exciting and scary, and I was super anxious the whole time. What furstrated me was that our team knew all the material, but it was just a matter of hitting that buzzer on time. Or before time. The other teams would hear two or three words and know what the question was and the entire answer, but all of the D.C. teams were used to hearing the entire questions, despite them knowing the majority of the answers. Bowl was pretty funny at times because the judges joked around a lot, but it was hard seeing my team under so much stress and pressure. However, as one of our bowl competitors, Adib, waited for one of the rounds to begin, he did some sort of spur-of-the-moment celebration dance, which was hilarious and instantly cheered all of us up! Not only was the bowl team on a roll again, but the supporters were louder than ever.

Anhar Karim:
I got to my graphic design presentation room and met a guy from Detroit (If I remember correctly) who was also competing. Quickly I began going over what I would say in my presentation and practicing in my head. Slowly competitors were called on from the list and their artwork was displayed on a large screen. Each competitor was to explain their artwork to the judges and the audience of MISTers who decided they wanted to watch this competition. I was the first place champion at regionals for this competition, but I saw so many amazing works of graphic design from other regions that I began to worry. Also adding to the pressure was a D.C. MIST organizer who popped into the room to inform me that I was the sole D.C. MIST competitor for graphic design. Great. No pressure. Finally, I went up to present.

My work was called an ambigram. An ambigram is a type of calligraphy where the writing can be read in two unique ways. In my work, the writing could be read as “Islam” right-side up. But when the image was inverted, the work could be read as “Family.” The crowd was pleasantly surprised when I flipped the image to show off this trick, and this gave me back a little of my confidence.

Aisha Khatib:
Between the second and third preliminary rounds of scholastic bowl, we stayed in the room to watch the spoken word competition. There are so many people in the room that it’s borderline hazardous. Two of our D.C. people go up to the podium, and the audience is enraptured. Cheers ring out before they begin and after they finish, and I stand up to applaud both as they make their way back to their seats.

Urooj Fatima:
My friends and I decided to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the competition, so we walked to a local library that had a Starbucks in it. Overjoyed, we all bought some sort of drink, and I bought my usual, a caramel frappe. The frappes there weren't as good as they are in America; they weren't sweet enough, had no caramel drizzled on top of the whipped cream, and were slightly bitter. But the trip to the library served as a nice breather in the middle of an energetic day.

Anhar Karim:
As soon as the art competition was finished, I went over to watch scholastic bowl and support our Montgomery County D.C. team. In the first bowl competition, we watched as our D.C. team was doing well. Our D.C. organizers made sure that the competitors had an ample audience in each competition room cheer them on. Soon D.C.’s chant, with its gigantic team, became very iconic. At every moment of silence we shouted, “DC. WE SEE. NOTHING BUT. VICTORY.” And what made it so recognizable was the end part of this specific chant. After chanting, the entire team would put up their hands and then pull them down all together with a “whoosh.” One thing no one would argue with is that Team D.C. had the best spirit (and quite possibly the least sleep).

We cheered the D.C. team on through the competition, even though it seemed that other teams had literally memorized the scholastic bowl study packets. Either that or a few of the competitors must have written a few pages. We cheered our team on through the second set of rounds, even though we noticed that our Montgomery County team was easily outmatched by the others. Throughout all of this it seemed the D.C. sisters had created their eleventh and twelfth chants.

My friend and I decided to go over and watch the spoken word competition afterward. It seemed the rest of MIST Nationals had made the same decision.

Urooj Fatima:
I remember attending one very memorable workshop called, "Why." This workshop was amazing! It was funny, and I found it to be very relatable to my life. I also observed the original oratory competition, which featured one competitor from D.C. Most of the competitors were fantastic and I was inspired by hearing them speak. At the end of the day, there was a long chant off, which was exhilarating at first, but then got rather tiresome.

Aisha Khatib:
Later on that evening, we prepared for the MIST field trip. We made our way to the buses and drove down to the docks, where we awaited the ferries. Confusion and boredom runs high as we struggled to pay the admission fee and eat by the dock. D.C. MIST flooded the ferry when it finally arrived, and it’s there that the magic of the moment finally hits us. We haven’t had time to fully realize that we’re not at home anymore. We’re in a different place altogether – we’re the newcomers, the tourists. We spend the trip taking blurry pictures and watching the lights of the city sparkle off the water.

Anhar Karim:
On the bus, we learned that we were going to Centre (Center?) Island, a sort of Canadian
Amusement part. After a while we all got off the buses and all of MIST Nationals began to walk through the city of Toronto, attempting to stay together. We were a massive group and we surely obstructed much traffic. Once we got to the Centre Island gates, we tried to organize tickets for the ferry ride over to the island. This, of course, was complete and utter chaos. But was it fun? In true MIST style, definitely. While waiting for our tickets we broke off into little groups and walked around the area.

The night settled in and we, still at the gates, were served our dinners. It was a burger, coke, and fries. Surprisingly it was very tasty, these MIST meals seemed to look more and more like actual food. After a while we all crowded around the ferry entrance and waited [im]patiently for our chance to get in. In the distance it seemed that NY had began another rap battle, seemingly with themselves.

The Toronto city lights were amazing. Sure, throughout the competition we’d made many jokes about Canada because we were competing against them. But no one could argue that Toronto looked beautiful that night. My friends and I looked out at the scene together and discussed Islam, the MIST experience, and nature. Yes, MIST was hectic, insane, and at times stressful. But I always love every moment of it. But it is especially moments like these that make driving ten hours from D.C. to Canada and eating indiscernible goo for meals all worthwhile. I wished that boat ride was just a little bit longer.

Urooj Fatima:
After the day's competitions, the D.C. team boarded our two buses and drove off to downtown Toronto for a ferry ride field trip. As we crowded the sidewalks and waited to board the ferry, we were served our dinner. When we were finally on the crowded ferry, the brothers kept chanting nonsense. At first it was just annoying, but then as nonMISTers boarded the ferry, the sisters also felt embarrassed. We would need to teach them better chants the next day. We ended our day the same way we did the night before, resting and relaxing in our hotel rooms.

Aisha Khatib:
It was midnight, back at the hotel. It was an interesting night all around. The one D.C. team member who had WiFi invited me to her room to check scholastic bowl results – we’ve made it to quarterfinals. I can tell it’s going to be another sleepless night in my room, and I’m right – several things transpire before I ever get any sleep. The research methods team practices in our room, I burn my hand on an iron and I have to get my hand bandaged, and the words on the packet blur before my eyes. But I have to keep reviewing, I think to myself. All in all, I think I get two hours of sleep before it’s time to get up and head to our final day of competitions.

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Urooj Fatima:
This time, many more of us were able to get up to pray fajr at exactly 4:30 a.m. Later in the morning, all of the coaches and competitors had to prepare to check out of the hotel, so we packed our luggage, ate breakfast in the cafeteria again and got on the bus to the St. George campus one last time.

At the campus, I watched the scholastic bowl quarterfinals, and then I went to compete in the research methods competition with another one of my team members, Sadia. I could barely keep my head up while waiting for my turn to present, and as soon as Sadia and I finished our presentation, we rushed over to watch the semifinal round of scholastic bowl. Sadly, DC MIST did not advance beyond the semifinals, but I was proud of our teams, regardless, because Toronto and New York were hard teams to defeat.

Aisha Khatib:
We made it to scholastic bowl quarterfinals late, but luckily it seems as if they’re behind schedule as well. We reach the room just in time to begin the round – and it goes awfully. Every round, I get angrier at myself for failing, for not hitting that buzzer faster, for guessing wrong when the answer was clear. I’m mad because D.C., who’s come out in droves to support us, has no one to support, nothing to cheer for. I know we didn’t make it to semifinals, and I break down. I know that we stopped there because of me, and I could have done better because I know my packets.

In order to distract ourselves, we headed to sisters’ nasheed. One of our teams goes up, then another, and then a third. The audience is mesmerized by their voices, and it’s uplifting to see them do so well. Pride lifted our heads as we hear the pin-drop silence while our girls sing.

But I was right. We didn’t make it to bowl semis. The disappointment isn’t a shock, but that moment, when I realize that any hope I ever had to go further is gone, is a bit too much to bear. After I calm down, I help one of our other teams, who did make it, study, and I watch the whole way through.

Urooj Fatima:
We got chicken biryani for lunch and it tasted way better than I had expected it to be, especially considering the food adventures of the past couple of days. After lunch, it seemed like the entire D.C. team went to go support our team member, Faraz Ahsan, in the debate finals. I actually paid attention to the entire debate since Faraz is one of my classmates at school, and because I find debate interesting. As an added bonus, I got to enjoy a cookie crumble frappe that my friend, Samiha, had surprised me with.

Anhar Karim:
We still had one D.C. hero, Faraz, over in debate. So, the entirety of D.C. MIST went out to the debate room to cheer him on. Except debate was a competition where you couldn’t really cheer. This, along with the complicated and extensive arguments presented in the debate over the government limitation of children, effectively put about 40 percent of the room to sleep. It was amazing, if there was an award for sleepiest audience, it would go here.

After an amazing debate performance (for those who stayed up) we all left the room and finally every competition at MIST was completed.

Aisha Khatib:
Everyone was tense throughout the debate finals, and the room was pin-drop silent. We bit our lips, watching our competitor and his opposition, analyzing points and gripping the seats as if we are actually up there instead of him. We made the D.C. sign with our fingers in place of applause.

Anhar Karim:
Now came the journey to the award show. One bus showed up and took the D.C. sisters to the award show venue. Every other person from every other region had to walk. Wonderful. No one was quite sure where we were going, but we seemed to be following some Toronto organizers and trusted their judgment. We went on a very strange route that went through extensive architecture, underground tunnels, busy Canadian streets, grassy plains, strange stairways, and monuments that seemed to copy the Big Ben and Washington Monument. At the end of it we were pretty confused, but when we saw our destination everything was better.

The venue was the Grand Ballroom of a large and beautiful Sheraton Hotel. We filled up the huge room with every region sitting together and we eagerly looked up at the stage ready for the results. At the back of the room were glass water containers and cups. I went back and got a glass. Even though my friend Zaid reminded me that it was just tap water, the beautiful triangular prism glass container made it taste that much better.

While waiting for the show to get started we, of course, began chanting our brains out. The problem was my brain and my voice had already gone. The MIST spirit in me had been sucked out and I was trying to save the little I had for the actual presenting of the awards. Luckily, I had brought a cheerleader pompom from our school and used it as my trusty spirit weapon. D.C. went on with its iconic “whoosh” chant and Chicago and Toronto also chimed in. New York and the alliance between Boston, Detroit, and Philadelphia also went at it against each other. Upon seeing this D.C. chanted about this battle, “WE ARE NEUTRAL.”

Nationals did not disappoint with the show. An Islamic speaker came up and talked to us about marriage (well the theme was family), many regions came up and had a “drum battle” (apparently a tradition at MIST Toronto), Boston came up and did an impressive beat boxing performance, and a slide show was shown that summarized the past few days (D.C. cheered every time we saw ourselves).

Aisha Khatib:
It’s the moment everyone’s been waiting for – the awards ceremony. You made it, or you didn’t.

A slideshow precedes the event, and every time a D.C. competitor shows up, the hall echoes with our chants. We’re the loudest people there. The emcee, Hamza Moin, begins to call out names, and every time he says D.C., we leap to our feet and begin to shout. “Azizah Abdul-Samad!” “Tubah Shah!” “Safiyah Cheatam!” “Naeem Baig!” We scream our victory chant; our voices are raw and aching, but we won’t spare them for our winners.

As my category comes up, my arms curl around my stomach. I’m tingling and dizzy, shaking my head at whoever looks at me hopefully. I feel sick to my stomach and I’m shaking like a leaf. How do they hide it so well? How to they look so calm? I’m praying, quietly to myself. “Third place,” calls the MC. And then he calls my name. The explosion is almost catastrophic to my ears, and I make my way to the stage on shaking knees. I did it – I placed. I’m up there! The first place winner from that competition also came from D.C., and I hug her fiercely as we cross paths – her going up and me coming down.

DC wins third overall. It’s no surprise – we all had a nagging suspicion, if not more, that we would place. We streamed to the left side of the stage, and began to cheer. Everyone wanted to touch the trophy. Everyone wanted to have a piece of what was everyone’s victory.

Urooj Fatima:
We all prepared to go to the awards ceremony, which was at a different location - a Sheraton hotel in downtown Toronto. The D.C. girls boarded the bus and the D.C. boys (and what seemed like everyone else from every other region) had to make the 20-minute walk to the hotel on foot. The Sheraton was actually a very nice hotel, and my friends and I decided to check out the little stores inside in hopes of getting rid of our Canadian money, but no one bought anything in the end.

Once the award ceremony itself got started, it rolled by pretty quickly. D.C. won 3rd overall region (Toronto and New York were first and second, respectively), and I found out later that my school, Eleanor Roosevelt, had one 3rd overall school in the nation. DC MIST also had the best chant. After the ceremony, we took countless group pictures and many individual ones too. Then, we boarded our bus, expecting to go straight home.

Anhar Karim:

It seemed that trophies were going around everywhere. D.C. cheered for every D.C. winner, and everyone else did the same for their own. Sadly, I did not place in both my competitions, but our Montgomery County basketball team and many other D.C. competitors did. Also, coming as little surprise to everyone, D.C. was awarded for best chant. It’s not sure which of the many chants claimed the victory, but we reacted by chanting our iconic “whoosh.” We were of course expecting 1st overall, because we got this the two previous years, but we ended up with 3rd.

Either way, we still jumped up and cheered for our victory, and I sacrificed whatever fragment of a voice I had left for it. At the end of the day, did I win graphic design? No. Did we win Short Film? No. Did we get first in Basketball? No. Did we get 1st overall? No. But were we winners? Yes. We may not have gotten all the trophies we wanted, but we have won so much more.

Throughout those three days I have made so many friends and met so many people that are my Muslim ummah, but that I would normally never have met due to the fact that we live all over North America. I do not have a trophy to show my experiences, but I do have the rewards of the memories. This was my first MIST Nationals, and it was an experience I will not forget. I have grown so much through it and learned so much. I believe I have learned so much about Islam and have come closer to my Deen. I even feel that I have come closer in touch with my fellow Muslims over in Canada.

Aisha Khatib:
After the Awards Ceremony, we called Adam Kareem and cheered into the phone. It’s a miracle if he heard anything at all. We take group pictures and hug each other goodbye – we don’t know when we’ll see each other again, but this is one of those memories that we will never forget. I hug everyone goodbye one last time, look around at our raucous, celebrating team, and head upstairs to collect my bags and head home.

Urooj Fatima:
However, we had barely exited Canada when the brothers' bus broke down at a rest stop in Buffalo. What we expected to be a short break turned out to be an all-night stop at the rest stop, while we waited for a new bus. In that time we prayed isha, fed ourselves, and stayed awake the entire night. The brothers played a huge game of Mafia, while the sisters jealously stared, wishing they could join too. One by one, we all changed into our pajamas (because everyone was observing the formal dress code for the award ceremony) and slowly most of the sisters went to go sleep on the hot dark bus, while others stayed inside the pit stop all night. I was one of the girls who decided to forgo sleep, and we got so tired and delirious that we could hardly think as we horsed around and sang along to a bunch of random songs.

Most of the girls were knocked out on the bus, so when it came time to pray fajr, it was mostly the guys that were praying in a group. This time we didn't pray fajr on the gravel, we prayed on the floor tiles. After fajr, I decided it was time to get some shut-eye and I too went to go sleep on the bus. In the morning, a new bus arrived and we finally set out for home again. The delay was an interesting experience. It was a good bonding opportunity and raised our sense of being the DC MIST family.

Aisha Khatib:
In conclusion, this past weekend, we students from D.C. really became a family. We supported each other, encouraged each other, and protected each other. It’s truly inspiring to hear nearly a hundred people supporting you, celebrating your accomplishment. I think it’s clear that even if we placed individually at regionals, we would never have gotten anywhere at nationals without each other. So my achievement, or any individual achievement, is D.C. MIST’s achievement, and it always will be. One team, one family. JazakAllah!

D.C. MIST’s 23 awards were:

photo by Aisha Khatib

Brothers most disciplined team: Moco Rockets
3rd place 2D art:
Tubah Shafi
3rd place 3D art:
Safiyah Cheatam
1st place Photography:
Ali Waseem
2nd place Knowledge Test 2:
Danish Akbar
1st place Knowledge Test 2
: Zaid Bilgrami
3rd place Brothers Tajweed:
Naeem Baig
1st place Brothers Tajweed:
Abdullah Ahmad
1st place Sisters Advanced Memorization:
Mamata Abdou
1st place Brothers Advanced Memorization:
Usman Qadri
2nd Place Prepared Essay:
Ali Waseem
3rd Place Original Oratory:
Adib Laskar
1st Place Extemp Speaking:
Faraz Ahsan
3rd Place Short Fiction:
Aisha Khatib
1st Place Short Fiction:
Amina Iro
2nd Place Spoken Word:
Azizah Abdul-Samad
1st Place Newsletter:
2nd Place Sisters improv:
Bowie HS
3rd Place Sisters Nasheed:
1st Place Sisters Nasheed:
Hammond HS
2nd Place Brothers Nasheed:
2nd Place Debate:
Faraz Ahsan
Winner of Best Chant