Strvnge Encounters, co-founded by Towson Alumni Salsabeel Abdelhamid and Aayesha Aijaz, is an original creative platform focused on providing a space for individuals who feel
out of place.
“We always thought that we
needed an outlet to express ourselves fully, and we knew that we wanted to start something,” Abdelhamid explained. “We really just wanted to make a platform where we could express ourselves and make sure that people had an outlet to do that.”
When asked about the meaning behind Strvnge Encounters, Abdelhamid gave a personal response.
“For me it mainly has to do with training myself not to be silent because when I was growing up I was always the shy kid,” Abdelhamid detailed. “I always felt like I didn’t have the right to speak, so this platform is really an avenue to challenge myself to be expressive and proud of who I am.”
Strvnge Encounters covers a broad range of topics, such as fashion, poetry, do-it-yourself projects and reviews. They operate through their website, social media and events in the Towson or Baltimore area. Abdelhamid aims to have a place for the many diverse students who attend Towson University.
“A lot of people were confused about what we were trying to do, but it all goes back to creating a safe space for everyone to fully express and discover themselves within this platform,” Abdelhamid stated. “We can’t just call ourselves a fashion blog.”
Both Abdelhamid and Aijaz use their diverse perspectives as Muslim women to shed light on issues that they feel need to be discussed.
“Our first workshop series had to with the intersectionalities of the Muslim identity, which we thought was important because we’re Muslim,” Abdelhamid stated. “We felt that we were complex and sometimes misunderstood, because our identity is simplified through the media.”
Previously, Strvnge Encounters has created monthly event series that provide creative emotional outlets inside of the healing space. These outlets include activities such as painting, weaving, zine making, henna and discussion. Some of these events are specifically for sexual assault survivors or queer people of color and their allies. This is to allow a feeling of safety among participants and to promote a more open discussion.
“It’s important for us to take time out to heal,” Abdelhamid explains.
Strvnge Encounters next event takes place this Saturday, Feb. 25 and focuses on Punjab, India and its fight for autonomy. More information regarding their events, safe spaces, collaborations and other work can be found on their Facebook page or www.strvnge-encounters.com.