Chicago IL: The Islamic Center of Naperville (ICN) hosted an iftar (an Arabic term to describe the breaking of fast during Ramadan) party for the local educators at their mosque. The event was focused towards teachers, staff and administrators of the local educational institutions that included Benedictine University and School Districts 204, 129, and 308.
Dr. Michael Brophy, President of Benedictine University said that the iftar party provided a platform for conversation with Muslim brothers, which was a beautiful occasion. “Within a week, we will be announcing the appointment of a full time staff member who will serve as a Muslim faith advisor to our students, to our faculty, and to me in order to give a big boost to greater mutual understanding”, he added.
Dr. Jeffery Craig, Superintendent of West Aurora School District 129 called for redoubled efforts to organize more and more faith-based, culture-based, and language-based interactions aimed at augmenting the nature and quality of relationships. “We speak multiple languages and have multiple cultures in our district. We not only have to be tolerant of, but we have to build relationships and extend our hands of friendship, as you have done tonight at the iftar party”, he added.
Dr. Karen Sullivan, Superintendent District 204 assured ICN of his collaboration in all efforts that are aimed at ensuring that our schools are welcoming, respectful, and supportive for students and their families belonging to all faiths and give a fillip to inclusiveness.
Saily Joshi, the Co-Chair of the Parent Diversity Advisory Council (PDAC) of the Indian Prairie School District 204, said that in the contemporary political climate, it is more important now than ever that we come together to celebrate and educate ourselves about the wonderful diversity that exists in the western suburbs. “At PDAC, we will continue these conversations and we are so pleased to see so many parents from ICN starting to attend the district meetings”, she added.
Rahman Khan, District 204 / ICN PDAC Liaison called for the need to organize more number of events, jointly by School Districts and ICN, for further strengthening our relationship. Dr. John Sparlin, Superintendent of Oswego School District 308 said that Naperville is fortunate to be a highly diverse place “A heightened interfaith understanding and mutual trust will make it a better place to live in.” He referred to the famous quote by Nobel Laurette Nelson Mandela who said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.
Shoaib Khadri, President of the Islamic Center of Naperville, applauded the efforts of Benedictine University and all the school districts in promoting diversity and inclusiveness. “But,” he added “with changing times come a new set of challenges” referring to the horrific incident in Orlando. “We look to our educators to provide an environment where students of all races, religions, and ethnic backgrounds can work together in solidarity to overcome the rhetoric of hate and intolerance and thereby build a safe and healthy community for all”.
Plaques of recognition were presented by ICN to the President of Benedictine University, each of the three school district superintendents and to the PDAC of District 204 in appreciation of each institution’s support of ICN’s core values of Tolerance, Justice, Peace, and Progress. Omar Rahman, a Senior at the University of Illinois and a graduate of Oswego East High School did a phenomenal job as the MC. The event ended with the breaking of the fast followed by a sumptuous Mediterranean Dinner in a pleasant and amiable environment.