top of page

How Laal has Shaped Me as a Working Womxn

By: Rumana Sayeed, Programs Assistant & Instructor

During the spring of 2021, five womxn, including me, attended citizenship prep classes hosted by Laal. However, one day, the instructor did not come. At that moment, I took the initiative of going through the citizenship questions with the members who attended the class, as I was eager to prepare because my citizenship interview was around the corner. Sanjana had observed me leading this class and she proposed to me that I should take over the classes because there was no certainty of the appointed instructor. From that day, I was no longer just a member, but an instructor at Laal. Moreover, I can now say, my name is Rumana Sayeed and I am Laal’s Program Assistant in addition to being an instructor for ESL and citizenship classes.

Rumana Sayeed leading Conversational ESL, Fall 2023

However, being a working womxn came with its own set of issues for me. Every person has weaknesses, perhaps mine was not to work. One reason I can think of is because my mother worked all her life. I never wanted to seem busy and bossy like her. But now, working at Laal, I handle many responsibilities and am very busy myself. I am capable of doing many things that I have wanted to do before because of Laal. One example is my confidence in my speaking skills, especially in English. At first, it was very difficult for me to socialize with people as it was not very comfortable for me, but now I assist Laal programs with interpretation! I have helped many Bengali families overcome issues that have been brought to my attention. At present, I am assisting 20 to 30 people and I am getting better every day.

Laal has also taught me about owning my boundaries. Now I maintain boundaries when it comes to my personal and professional life, and I pay attention to it every day. Everything is not always easy the way it looks, but the most incredible achievement is that I know how to utilize my time. I have recently been ESL certified and I am working currently building the curriculum for ESL in which I will be teaching Elementary ESL, Conversational and ESL Level 1. My first job ever was a full-time teacher where I was then promoted to an administrator in 1999. I was also a home tutor, teaching different school students from second grade to sixth grade from 2000-2004. After a 20 year gap, I wholeheartedly say I was rebuilt by Laal. My previous experience also proved beneficial, but my beautiful team is constantly working with me, supporting and teaching me, giving their valuable time to me so that I can have my confidence back and become the working womxn I am.


Laal Citizenship and ESL

I am excited to announce that as of 2024, 64 members have passed the citizenship test and are now U.S. citizens due to our classes! Many of our members in our citizenship classes attend our ESL program. These two programs play hand in hand to help our womxn gain the confidence to speak in English and write in English for the U.S. citizenship test.

Our ESL classes are sometimes the first time some of our members are learning English or even attempting to read and write in general. We have some members ages 70+ who never had the opportunity to go to school in Bangladesh to learn how to read and write. It is fascinating to see older Bangladeshi womxn who do not know how to read or write in Bangla, learn and know how to read and write in English.


#FreePalestine & Ramadan

The blessed month of Ramadan began March 10th, 2024 and during this month, Muslims all over the world fast from dawn until dusk. This month is a reminder to be grateful for all the great things life has to offer while also remembering to give back to those in need.

Before Ramadan began, the Laal team had attended RamadanCon, which was hosted by Asiyahs Womxn’s Center. In that event, there were journalists reporting live from Gaza, Palestine, explaining the current situation and horrific conditions many Palestinians are having to face. It was an incredibly overwhelming experience.

Laal Team at RamadanCon hosted by AWC

During the month of Ramadan, we should remember our fellow brothers and sisters and Palestine who may not be able to celebrate this spiritual month in the way they had hoped because they are trying to survive a genocide.It is imperative to support Palestine how we can. I have had privilege to participate in the protest for Palestine 🇵🇸 in Washington DC. The more we come together and take action as a collective, the louder our voices will be.

Palestine will be FREE ✊🏼


Member Spotlight:

Khushi Das (left) & Rokeya Begum (right) : Two Laal Members

I would like to highlight Laal’s very own Rokeya Begum. She is 77 years old and she is the oldest member of Laal. She is one of the members who encouraged me to join as an instructor and she is also one of my students for both ESL and citizenship. Honestly, she is my teacher rather than me being hers. Her passion for learning and her dedication to attend class regularly changed me as a person.

She is one of the most motivating and inspiring womxn I have ever seen in my life. At her age, she exudes high-spirited energy and is full of life. Sometimes I can’t even figure out how and where she gets her verve. Oftentimes, womxn over a certain age are neglected in society or not given the same value as younger people. However, Rokeya tries her very best to read and write in English despite not knowing how to read and write at all! Her desire to learn how to read, write, and speak encourages many of our other students and inspires us all.

Rokeya Begum is the true face of an immigrant Bangladeshi womxn at Laal.


bottom of page