Happy Holidays from our Chapters!
The past few months, we've seen a renewed sense of energy and commitment from our Chapters around the world. At a time when political divisiveness appears to be pulling people further apart, we’re seeing a different trend.People are coming together seeking to listen and understand each other in search of common ground. Now, the theme of turning the “Other” into a brother feels more relevant than ever, and we’re grateful that our Chapters provide a safe and open space for dialogue and bridge-building.
- Hriday, one of our Chapter Leaders in New Delhi, India extended a warm welcome to our newest Leader, Mirza, from Faisalabad, Pakistan on a conference call. It was heartwarming to hear their exchange--from countries with longstanding and underlying tensions. Our two Chapters in India have been seeking opportunities to collaborate on upcoming meetings and events.
- Tim, a Principia College Chapter Leader, connected with Yasmeen, our Chapter Leader in Amman, while studying abroad in Jordan.
St. Lawrence University, New York
Following the U.S. presidential elections, the St. Lawrence Chapter decided to set up a table in their student center where people could stop by and write letters to Muslims in their community. About 40 letters were written and delivered to the local mosque expressing support and appreciation for their Muslim neighbors. The imam responded with gratitude for this thoughtful gesture.Members of the Chapter also attended the Middle East Institute conference in Washington D.C. They reported that it was informative and a great opportunity to connect with other organizations and individuals that have a keen interest in the region.
Principia College, Illinois
Principia recently hosted former Ambassador Rick Barton for a Q&A session on Middle East and U.S. relations. They had a lively discussion covering current topics such as the impact of the U.S. election on this relationship, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the Syrian civil war. The Chapter also screened the film “Wajdjda" on campus. It’s the first film to be directed by a Saudi woman. The script is a girl who enters a Qu’ran reading competition despite the cultural barriers she faces.Principia's co-Leader Tim Steckler spent the semester abroad in Amman, Jordan with a program called “Refugees, health, and humanitarian action.” He studied Arabic and researched the use of performing arts to help people connect with their culture and handle trauma. Tim was also able to visit Syrian refugee camps, and described it as enlightening and transformative to witness the resilience and dignity of the people he met!
Euphrates Founder and CEO, Janessa Gans Wilder, recently gave two talks at the university campus. She focused on the theme of turning the "Other" into a brother, and shared the Euphrates story of choosing the river of peace even in the midst of fear and conflict.The Chapter hosted an interactive interfaith event with Jews, Christians, and Muslims in attendance. They divided into small groups to dive deeply into the following questions: What is faith? What is interfaith? Who is your “Other?” When have you been the “Other?” How can interfaith help us address the “Other?” It was an engaging meeting that left participants eager to take the next step forward by sharing their experience with others.
Many newcomers were welcomed to the Redding Chapter’s December meeting. They heard presentations from two local organizations including Abraham’s Tent, an interfaith group in Sacramento, and a local chapter of the Save Darfur campaign.The Chapter is continuing to prepare for Festival Cinema Invisible on January 6-7. They are eager to share films with their community from the Middle East/North Africa region that are “invisible” because they have been banned in their country of origin or they have been created by people who are “invisible,” such as women, youth, or refugees.
UTC Chattanooga, Tennessee
The Chattanooga Chapter has been drawing on resources within the university faculty to share their knowledge with students at recent meetings. They invited Dr. Jordan Amirkhani to present her research on Iranian art and Dr. Tracy Samuel to speak about her experiences in the Middle East. Chapter Leader, Allison Cate, explains that people on campus have an interest in the region and Euphrates is providing a space for interdisciplinary learning and collaboration on topical issues. Read more about their activities in an article about Euphrates in the student newspaper.The Chapter also hosted Professor Lihi Ben Shitrit, author of “Righteous Transgressions: Women’s Activism on the Israeli and Palestinian Religious Right” as a speaker. They read her book during the summer and were excited to hear more about her study of the intersections of gender, religion, and politics in the Middle East.We are touched by the passion and creativity that our Chapters bring to their activities as they work to meet the needs of their communities. If you have not already made your donation, we invite you to help support and sustain the growth of our Chapters program.