The NTEN team is growing. We're thrilled to tell you that Tahira Abbas has joined NTEN as our Cohort Coordinator!
What was your favorite childhood meal?
Khubz Uruk — it’s quite a fragrant memory. It’s like Iraqi flatbread with minced beef, lots of chopped herbs, some diced onion, and a mix of cumin and turmeric, all kneaded into the dough. These days, I love having it with a side of mint, tomatoes, cheese, and a nice cup of Iraqi tea.
What are your favorite memories about Canada?
Oh, way back in 1998, Montreal got hit by this massive ice storm. Freezing rain basically transformed everything into a crystal wonderland. Of course, that ice caused damage and power outages, but as a kid with none of these concerns, it was just pure magic. Schools shut down for like a whole week, and we had back-to-back sleepover parties with other kids at the community center, which still had power and opened as a shelter. It was an absolute blast, although I can totally see how it must've been a bit of a parental nightmare!
What's a place in the world that feels like home to you, even if you've never lived there?
The Redwoods Forest! But also Iraq. My family roots are from there, and my parents fled the country in the early 1980s. They repeatedly told us stories of the beautiful landscapes, the mosaic of cultural and religious minorities, and cool things like sleeping on the roofs of their homes on those warm summer nights. Their fond memories of the good old days made it feel like a piece of home.
Do you have any favorite quotes or mottos that inspire you personally or professionally?
Yes, two quotes from Austin Kleon: “Uncertainty is the very thing that art thrives on” and “Creativity is about connection — you must be connected to others in order to be inspired and share your own work — but it is also about disconnection. You must retreat from the world long enough to think, practice your art, and bring forth something worth sharing with others.”
If you could acquire a new skill instantly, what would it be and why?
It would be surfing. I’ve always loved watching surfers, especially at La Jolla Shores in California. It’s a whole mood, and there’s something captivating about watching them prepare to catch that perfect wave, gracefully ride the high and the low of it, and then just dive back into the sea.
Program Director, NTEN
After separating from the military, I went back to school to pursue a new path in life and higher education. Halfway through my college experience, I crossed paths with AmeriCorps and the world of volunteering and nonprofits. I was hooked!The experience in AmeriCorps altered my perspective. It allowed me to envision a life where I could be of service and align myself with service-driven organizations for a career. Since then, I have worked in direct client services with veterans and communications and marketing efforts in the nonprofit space.While I enjoy the work, boundaries are important, and I put just as much value in pursuing personal interests. When not at the virtual office, my interests lie in world travel, home cooking, salsa dancing, gaming, and the occasional DIY home project that hopefully won't lead to thousands of dollars in property damage.