Adel Mozip – Melvindale, MI:
“What unites us is greater than what divides us.” Ms. Ali, Assistant Principal and founder of the event quoted Pope John XXIII in her welcoming message to an audience of about 300 people. In May of 2018 during the month of Ramadan, students, staff and community members gathered together for Melvindale- Northern Allen Park Schools’ first-ever Interfaith Iftar Dinner. The principle behind these dinners was to unite different people from all faiths and ethnic backgrounds to value and respect our diversity as a community. The two dinners were hosted for all middle and high school students and their families. Volunteers from across the district worked hard brought so many people from different backgrounds in Melvindale. Abdulfatah Yahia, Social Studies teacher at Strong Middle School and coordinator for the event worked diligently to make sure all students and families were welcomed and enjoyed their time. Stakeholders from the community came together to sponsor the event and donate food to ensure that the event was a success for all and though we all come from different backgrounds, it is evident that we all have one common goal; we want achievement and success for all. The event gave people from the community the opportunity to break bread together and engage in conversations about learning, loving and accepting one another. Christin Terry, Special Education teacher at Strong Middle School described the event as a “sensational and breathtaking experience. Looking through the other side of the window really helps put things into perspective.”
The surrounding community supported the event. Local businesses such as LaPalma Restaurant, Al-Nawras, Las Cazuelus, Byblos, Dearborn Fresh and all of the generous families and staff members helped to provide monetary donations or a favorite potluck dish to share. Superintendent of the Melvindale-Northern Allen Park Schools, Dr. Kimberly Soranno encouraged staff members to attend and commented on the event stating, “this symbolic evening and dinner were beautifully planned and celebrated by all who attended. The happiness, hospitality, graciousness, of our hosts, was abundant.” Melvindale Public Schools hopes to continue and make this a yearly event for all to celebrate. Board members Robert Turner, Alex Atanasovski, Jim Beri, Malek Saif and Steven Gunther described the event as something they would love to continue to do to showcase Melvindale Schools and the warm and welcoming wonderful diverse families they serve. The month of Ramadan allows Muslims to reflect on all of their blessings and seek rewards by serving humanity and most importantly, the less fortunate so the remaining food from the events was donated to feed the homeless people and people in need from the community. The laughter and conversations that were sparked over the dinner table made this event a meaningful experience for all the attendees.