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Meet Anisa!

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Meet Anisa! She knows what someone is feeling without them having to tell her, and she knows how to cheer someone up without them having to ask. Anisa’s empathy and warm energy can light up a room and draw people toward her. She loves to express herself through her art, whether that is photography, drawing, or journaling, and strives to find purpose in everything she does. Even though Anisa prefers to quietly observe situations, she has a strong moral compass and will stand up for what she thinks is right. She considers how her actions will affect others before doing something, which makes her a very responsible, engaged member of her family, school, and community.

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Anisa’s mother, Yasmine, is a professor, and her father, Javad, is an architect. Anisa loves to go on adventures with her little brother, Behnam, and her dog, Toby. The Khans are involved in many educational initiatives in their community and love hosting big dinner parties for their friends and family.


A true artist, Anisa loves quiet, reflective activities in which she can express herself. She spends lots of time journaling, writing, and expanding her photography portfolio. Anisa can find inspiration anywhere, but spending time at her local museum to examine other local artists’ work is particularly inspiring to her.

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Each of the Fly Five characters has a unique story to tell. While they all live in the same neighborhood and share many interests, teams, clubs, and classrooms, they have different strengths, values, hopes, and ways of perceiving the world. The human interest stories offer students and teachers an opportunity to connect with the characters more deeply, as the stories are first-person accounts of an important moment in each one’s life. From coming-of-age reflections about family and faith to explorations of one’s place in their cultural history, these stories remind us of the ways we are all connected: through our relationships, our triumphs and struggles, and our ability to find hope and resilience no matter what challenges life presents.


My First Fast

On the first day of Ramadan this year, my Mom and I watched the sunrise tinge the sky orange and then melt into a bright yellow morning. Even though the day had started the same as Ramadan usually does, with prayers, date smoothies, and big portions of eggs with fava beans, it felt different. Heavy. It was my first time participating in the fast. My parents fasted every year, and when I was younger I couldn’t wait to be old enough to do it, too. Now that the time had finally come, I wasn’t sure what to expect or how to feel.

Our house was peaceful and almost silent, and mom pulled me close. “I watched the sunrise with my mom when I fasted for the first time,” she whispered as if she didn’t want to interrupt the serenity by speaking too loudly. “You’re part of something big now, bigger than all of us,” she said. “When it gets difficult, remember your community. Remember all of the other girls like you, sitting with their mothers, about to participate in the same experience.”

How difficult could it be? I’d been hungry before. Plus, my mom never complains, and she doesn’t even drink water during her fast like I do. “I’ve got this,” I said. “I can be strong.”

At school, I spent the lunch period in the art room, alone. The noise of the cafeteria next door cut the silence and amplified how lonely I felt. All I could think about was what I couldn’t do: eat; sit with my best friend, Luna; go to recess. A month started feeling like an eternity. My strength didn’t feel so strong anymore.

“You can’t do this” echoed around in my head, so I stood to go and eat with my friends. I could try again tomorrow, I reasoned.

But then my mom’s words, “You’re part of something bigger than you now,” stopped me. I couldn’t let her down. I couldn’t let my community down. I took some big breaths and mustered all of my strength. My mom was right: it would get hard. Unfortunately, it got harder faster than I expected. The rest of the day went by in a blur, but I did it.

At sundown, my parents and little brother, Behn, and I broke the fast together as a family. When I looked in the mirror before bed, it surprised me that I looked the same when I felt so different inside. Muslims around the world felt close to me now that I was fasting. All the girls my age who were fasting for the first time too felt like my friends, even though I didn’t know them. It felt like we were helping each other stay strong somehow. When I thought about it that way, as if every member of my community all over the world were doing it for each other, the harder moments felt easier and worthwhile. The lonely moments felt less lonely. I knew I was making my community proud.

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  • Fly Five is designed with the awareness that diversity and representation is a non-negotiable aspect of social and emotional learning. Central to this curriculum is our cast of nine characters who are grounded in authentic storylines that represent diversity of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, religious beliefs, family structure, socioeconomic status, and more. In creating the characters, we employed a careful, critical research process to ensure that their cultures, interests, appearance, and family structures are accurately and respectfully depicted.
  • Research for Anisa included attention to the Islamic religion, culture, and traditions as well as the lived experiences of Muslim-Americans.

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