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ING completes academic year 2006 – 2007 with 10% increase in presentations from previous year!
ING spoke in or held 726 events and presentations during the academic year (September 2006 to August 2007), which is a 10% increase from the previous year (657). 726 events and presentations were attended by over 30,000 Americans of different faiths. The increase is due to new interfaith work, which represented 32% of the events in which we spoke, participated or initiated such as the San Mateo interfaith dialogues that were attended by 350 people.
And while schools still make up 60% of ING’s audiences, high school presentations this year made up nearly 45% of the total for schools, an unprecedented percentage for the organization. Increasingly high school teachers are incorporating live presenters in the study of Muslim culture or the Middle East in world history classes to help students understand current events and issues, or are concerned that their students are accepting widespread stereotypes about Islam and Muslims they encounter in the media or mass culture. Inviting ING speakers to explain and dispel common misperceptions is important to teachers who are trying to cultivate an ethos of understanding and tolerance in their students.
Also setting a new record for ING was the number of interfaith presentations or panels that ING participated in; nearly a third (32%) of the total venues that hosted an event was religious institutions or interfaith events. This is a reflection, both of the growing desire for inclusion of all religions by the faith community, and ING’s increased outreach and focus on interfaith and the dedication of its new interfaith coordinator, Yasmine Khan. Understanding and embracing people of all faiths is the strength and founding vision of the United States, as entrenched in the First Amendment.
Looking at the year’s results as a whole, ING speakers delivered 726 presentations to a variety of institutions and venues, including the following:
- Elementary and Middle Schools: 284 classes or presentations in 85 middle schools
- High Schools: 230 classes or presentations in 52 high schools
- Religious Institutions or Interfaith: 110 presentations, panels, or dialogues
- Universities and colleges: 37 classes or presentations
- Community centers or organizations: 30 presentations
- Speakers Trainings: 13 training programs for prospective new speakers
- Law Enforcement: 11 presentations
- Healthcare facilities: 5 presentations
- Corporations: 3 presentations
- Media interviews: 3
This means that approximately 30,000 Americans of different faiths learned about their shared commonalities in the context of America’s religious pluralism while having some of their misconceptions clarified and explained. The impact of these educational seminars on a wide range of people is evident from feedback and quotes of audience members. Here is such a small sample from among the hundreds of comments, letters, and notes ING receives annually from a teacher and students, mainly in high school. These and the numerous others like them illustrate both the need and the importance of providing education about Muslim culture, and emphasizing the commonalities of all faiths and peoples.
Quote from Middle School Teacher:
“The presentation provided was excellent and all that I had expected. I believe if fit well within the structure of how I teach history to my students. I use culture as a lens. I believe that my students benefited greatly from both the hard work of the presenter and the originator of the slideshow on Islamic Contributions.”
Quotes from Students:
* “I am writing to thank you for your illuminating presentation. Your presentation was the first firsthand account of what it is like to be a Muslim in America I have ever heard…”
* “Our class had already covered some of the basics about Islam, but truthfully nothing had really jumped out and sparked my interest until your lecture. Thank you so much for coming to our class to talk. I really enjoyed it!”
* “Thank you for coming into our class to talk to us about your religion. At first I wasn’t sure if Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all basically believe in one God, but this presentation confirmed that they believe in the same God but interpret God differently.”
* “You proved that I was right about how I say that most Muslims are peaceful…rather than the stereotype of Muslims being terrorists.”
* “Thank you for coming and teaching me and my fellow classmates about how you and [other] Muslims live their normal, everyday life. I have never been able to talk to a Muslim American…so it was very interesting to me.”
* “Unfortunately I had never talked to anyone who actually practiced the religion Islam and so hearing your personal opinion about your faith was very enlightening. Also I always thought the majority of Muslims were all Arabs but in reality only eighteen percent are Arab-Muslims and eighty-two are Non-Arabs!”
ING’s work over the past year – and the past 15 years – would not have been possible without your continuing support.