Cultural Competency Serving Arabs and American Muslim Families

(San Jose, 6/12/2007) ING News and Events of Note:

ING Speaker Participates in Castro Valley High Interfaith Baccalaureate – 6/10/07

An ING speaker joined members of other faith traditions at Castro Valley High School’s 25th Interfaith Baccalaureate on Sunday, June 10th. The one hour ceremony consisted of speeches by school officials and religious leaders, including Superintendent James Fitzpatrick, Principal Lisa Garcia, and faith leader representatives of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist communities, as well as farewell speeches and choral, musical, and other performances by graduating seniors. The various words of wisdom of the different faith and school leaders blended together in a beautiful array of advice and inspiration for the graduates and young people in general. The ING speaker both voiced appreciation for inclusion in the program, as well as echoed the sentiment of other speakers that what is most important for young people today is the desire and commitment to making this world a better place.

The shift in recent years to include representatives of various faiths in the event is a reflection of a moral and ethical leadership at the school who understand the importance of inclusion and diversity. Those who initiated this shift in content and representation of this event, view this service as an example of and a statement of how a community made up of families of many different faiths can come together and celebrate and congratulate their graduating seniors for their achievements. As one of the organizers stated, “It is a very moving and powerful feeling to see the faith leaders together on the stage speaking to our seniors and their families. We are doing our small part to create a more peaceful world for our children.”

Castro Valley High is to be commended for its inclusiveness and tolerance. Castro Valley is also a long time sponsor of “Days of Diversity” which has regularly featured ING speakers, and was the recipient of award from ING for its promotion of diversity a couple of years ago.

ING Speaker Delivers Cultural Diversity Training to First 5 Alameda – 6/7/07

Maha Elgenaidi, ING’s President participated in a seminar titled: “Cultural Competency Serving Arab-American & Muslim-American Families” on Thursday, June 7, 2007 in San Leandro. The three hour event was organized by First 5 Alameda County, an organization that supports the health, development and well-being of children through their first five years of their life (See: The audience included approximately 120 service providers who work with children ages 0-5 and their families, including public health nurses, social workers, mental health professionals, and preschools teachers and administrators. The seminar provided an orientation on the Arab and Muslim American communities, particularly with regard to issues relating to the care of young children.

The event was co-sponsored by the Arab Cultural Center in San Francisco, and featured two presenters from the center, Nadiah Mshasha and Sally Al-Daher, the Center’s Executive Director who focused on Arab culture, while the ING speaker addressed Muslim culture. They began with a clip from Jack Shaheen’s film, Reel Arabs, which showed how Arabs have been depicted in Hollywood for the last 100 years and how these images impact our perceptions and prejudices. All of the speakers emphasized the importance of gaining a better understanding of the cultures in order to better serve clientele from those backgrounds. ING has collaborated previously with the Arab Cultural Center on similar programs, and appreciates the opportunity to work together in furthering an understanding of both cultures.

ING Speaker Addresses “Sons in Retirement” – 6/6/07

An ING speaker addressed a group of about 50 retired men in an event hosted by the “Sons In Retirement” or SIR. SIR is a nonprofit public benefit corporation for retired men, devoted to the promotion of independence and dignity of retirement, whose purpose is to assist men in renewing former friendships and provide opportunities to make new friends through association with other retirees (See:

The topic addressed was an “Orientation on Islam and Contemporary Muslims”, which has become one of the most often requested subjects for adult audiences. Questions from the enthusiastic and well read group covered the spectrum, from questions on sectarian divisions, to terrorism and women’s rights, and made for a great dialogue and conversation, especially since for some of the participants it was their first opportunity to dialogue with a Muslim American.

ING Participates in FAITHS Program and NAIN Meeting at the Presidio – 6/5/07

On Tuesday, June 5th, ING’s Interfaith Coordinator, Yasmine Khan participated in the San Francisco Foundation’s bimonthly FAITHS Program Leadership Group meeting, where she was asked to share a brief description of ING’s current and emerging interfaith projects with the group. Afterwards, she also attended a North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) meeting, also at the Interfaith Center at the Presidio. NAIN is a non-profit association of interfaith organizations and agencies in Canada, Mexico and the United States. NAIN’s programs seek to build communication and mutual understanding among interfaith organizations and diverse religious groups throughout North America. NAIN’s upcoming annual conference will be held this summer in Richmond, VA, and next year’s conference will be hosted by the San Francisco Bay Area, at the University of San Francisco. Yasmine contributed to the discussion related to the NAIN 2008 conference, the theme of which is “The Way Forward – North America’s Grassroots Movement in the 21st Century.” The afternoon was spent discussing potential workshop and program components for the 2008 event, including a nod to ING as a model organization for its cultural competency workshops and its new and novel ways of nurturing local interfaith activity.

ING Interfaith Coordinator attends Friends in Faith Meeting – 6/4/07

On Monday, June 4th, ING’s Interfaith Coordinator, Yasmine Khan, attended a Friends in Faith meeting at the Interfaith Center at the Presidio, in San Francisco. The Friends in Faith initiative seeks to build an interfaith leadership for social change. The objective is to create an interfaith youth movement in the Bay Area, using story, technology, “Appreciative Inquiry” *, and dialogue. Friends in Faith also intends to create a network of leaders, teachers, youth advisors, and interfaith workers who will themselves practice the skills they will teach others, and connect to resources and others who can help promote interfaith understanding. The gathering consisted of youth leaders of several faith traditions from across the Bay Area. Participants were asked to share a ritual or practice that they engage in regularly, which ties them to their faith. Friends in Faith organizers hope that such interfaith exploration will “create opportunities to connect our youth and build more harmonious relationships for the future.”