All About Community: An Interview with Kaoutar Afif


Kaoutar Afif came full circle: The development intern grew up coming to Astoria for years before interning at CIANA. Pictured in Athens Square. Photo: Maria Eliades

What attracted Kaoutar Afif, a Summer 2019 Development Intern, to CIANA was location. The Roosevelt Island native grew up coming to Astoria with her parents to connect with the large Moroccan diaspora. The Barnard student speaks about her experiences growing up on the island and her work for CIANA with Director of Development and Communications Maria Eliades.

Maria Eliades: It’s interesting to me that you come to us from Roosevelt Island. Could you talk to me about what it was like growing up there? What was the community like?

Kaoutar Afif: It’s different from what the rest of the city is like. I grew up in Roosevelt Island but I went to middle school and high school in the city. Roosevelt Island was a very small, communal, residential space. You’d go outside and see almost everyone you know. It would be impossible to go outside without seeing your family, friends, your friends from school, and just anyone. I used to be able to go outside and run around all day with my siblings and my friends. That shaped my childhood a lot.

The island’s definitely changing a lot now because there has been a lot more luxury condos being built and a lot of places being driven out. The rent is getting too high. It still has that communal feel but not quite. The demographic has changed exponentially over the past few years.

ME: How does it feel coming from that and working from Astoria?