DEARBORN HEIGHTS — Just one year after its formation, the Annapolis High School Arab Student Union (ASU) hosted its first Iftar dinner.
The dinner brought community members and students from the Dearborn Heights D7 School District together on April 18 and included dates, chicken, rice pilaf, salad, fruit and more.
Annapolis senior and ASU founder Tomasia Suleiman said that this was the ASU’s way of showing what Ramadan means to Muslims around the world.
“Me and my team have been planning to do a big event for the school since we started the club,” she said. “We know that the majority of the Arabs at our school are Muslim, so the idea of having an Iftar was perfect. It gives us a chance to showcase the true meaning of Ramadan and teach the general body of the school what it means to Muslims around the world.”
Suleiman also said that the dinner was a great way to bring the community together.
“The Iftar dinner was a perfect way to bring people together — as who doesn’t love food? — while also teaching the general student body about the holy month of Ramadan,” she said. “As our club started, we wanted to bring awareness to Arab culture and to break stereotypes, and Annapolis is pretty diverse compared to other schools in the county. Many kids coming in are newcomers to America and, as having immigrant parents, it’s honestly really hard to assimilate to American culture… especially high school. We wanted to give them a safe place where we can give them opportunities and help them be successful in America and give them opportunities to help them in the long run.”
Science teacher and ASU sponsor and adviser Ziad Saad said the students were excited to host the dinner.
“We decided to do the Iftar because we really wanted to do something to celebrate our student body and their observance of Ramadan,” he said. “Since Iftar is a time that brings families and communities together, we thought, ‘what better way to celebrate our students than to have them break bread together?’ The students were very excited about the idea and kept asking about the date since we asked them if they were interested. We ended up with more students than we expected. It went really great.”
We know that the majority of the Arabs at our school are Muslim, so the idea of having an Iftar was perfect. It gives us a chance to showcase the true meaning of Ramadan and teach the general body of the school what it means to Muslims around the world. — Tomasia Suleiman
Saad said that the ASU has helped students from all around the school come out of their shells.
“When we started the Arab Student Union last year, the students were very shy and barely knew each other,” he said. “It was very nice to see how close they grew and how much fun they had. It was also very rewarding to see them very happy of the fact that the school, administration and staff support them and our diverse student population. Very often, most schools observe Christmas and other religions’ events and some students feel they are being excluded because they are not the majority. With the Iftar, it was a way to show that every student, no matter of their religion or ethnic background, is recognized and celebrated at Annapolis.”
With such a great turnout and a majority of the school board, the superintendent, staff members and some district representatives in attendance, Saad said that they hope to be able to reach out to more students next year.
Leave a Reply