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"Box of Dreams” by Faith Kazmi

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By Sonia Chan (>)

Dr. Faith Kazmi is the author for the soon-to-be released children’s book, “Box of Dreams’. She is the Director of Stanford’s Womens Community Center (WCC). “Box of Dreams” is about a young Filipina girl and her mother as they pack up a balikbayan box for their family back in the Philippines. The mother illustrates to her daughter why they send items like clothes, food, and other miscellaneous house items to their family.

Faith is the Associate Dean/Director of Stanford’s Womens Community Center and has been a Stanford staffer since 2005. A Stanford community member for nearly 20 years, she takes pride not only in her work to address issues about gender, equity, and justice, but also in her creative endeavors. She has always been into creative avenues such as painting, drawing, and writing. Faith mentions that her storytelling is rooted from sharing abstract journeys with her nieces and nephews (or as she calls them, “niblings”). After she had her daughter in 2012, she decided that she would put her dreams of writing a children’s book into reality. Her goal was to prove to her daughter that “you can do anything you put your mind to”! Faith’s experience in higher education extends beyond her time at Stanford as she also earned her BA in Psychology from UC Irvine, MA in Higher Education from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and her doctorate in education from the University of San Francisco. Although clearly well-versed in higher education, she wanted to explore a different arena: children’s books. After attending The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference in 2017, Faith learned about the publication industry and met fellow aspiring authors. This conference was a defining moment in becoming more informed about the process of publishing a children’s book, and also proved that she was ready to do so. As much as Faith was prepared for the world to read her book, the publication industry had other thoughts. When she started putting herself and her work out there in 2012, she received rejection after rejection. It wasn’t until five years later when she began querying with an agent to finally have her book published. The world was ready to read a children’s book by Faith Kazmi.

Children’s books have taken a turn in recent years in regards to representation. Children now have more variety and opportunities to see themselves reflected in books, whether that be children with disabilities, same sex parents, or BIPOC families. But growing up, Faith says that this was not the case for her. There was no representation of Filipino children or families in the books she read or media she saw. Not only is it freeing and liberating, but according to Faith, representation in all forms matter as it “reflects an accurate reality”. It’s inspiring to all peoples that haven’t seen or experienced these identities as it simultaneously educates them on a more realistic world.

Faith talks about how the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the quiet but concentrated discourse of Filipino nurses dying at a higher rate. With her own mother and aunties being nurses themselves, she could not stop thinking about how Filipino nurses immigrate to the States to follow their dreams and do whatever it takes to do so. She wanted to manifest a physical form of a love letter to all Filipino parents and families that left their homeland and sacrificed so much to follow their dreams. As a result, Faith wrote the “Box of Dreams” 2021. 

"Box of Dreams”, written by Faith Kazmi

She shares that her time at the WCC contributes to her work as a children’s book author because it impacts younger generations. In her work at Stanford, she wants to follow her dreams while guiding others with their own. She enjoys the ability to share her success and failures with her WCC community as “a lot of uplifting stems from collective work”.

Faith’s advice to those that are interested in writing books, especially for people of color and Filipino folks, follows two main points: “Don’t be afraid to share your work and get real feedback, and don’t give up! Keep going and feed that fire within”. Her hopes with “Box of Dreams” is that it touches anyone who reads it, and would love to uplift Filipino communities all over the world. The balikbayan boxes come from all corners of the world. To Faith, the boxes are a representation of “how much love and community is at the heart in Filipino communities, no matter where you are”.

“Box of Dreams”, written by Faith Kazmi and illustrated by Christine Almeda, will be released on May 7, 2024 and can be pre-ordered

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