MACCPAC-TFI YLR: A Week of Bonding and Personal Growth
By Maryam Sinanovic
This year’s MACCPAC-TFI Youth Leadership Retreat held on August 2nd 2015 - August 7th 2015 was a huge success! The vibrant and lively dynamic of the participants from the US and Canada enjoyed workshops and speakers from different organizations throughout the week.
From speakers like Robert McCaw, Government Affairs Manager from CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) to Sarah Cochran, Director for the State of Virginia at Emerge USA, students learned ways and acquired skills to politically empower themselves as well as their communities to protect and enforce their constitutional rights. Hoda Hawa and Riham Osman from MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council) also came to illustrate the importance of active citizenship and civic engagement in the local community.
Besides discussing government affairs and policies, students were also exposed to different NGOs, such as the Muslim Justice League, UNRWA USA, Islamic Relief, and the Green Muslims. Here, students learned how they can actively engage in the Muslim community and remain cognizant, while still contributing positively to the American society as a whole.
Students were not only exposed on how to engage within their community, but also on how to engage between other communities as well. Farhanahz Ellis from ADAMS center came to express the importance of interfaith and civic engagement. She focused on how to open dialogue with other communities and find common good to unify all. Corey Saylor, Director of the Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia at CAIR, came to discuss on how to engage and be an effective communicator with the media.
Apart from the workshops and lectures from speakers, students were able to see the applicability of the skills and concepts they learned during the day through the site visits that were held in the afternoon. From speaking with Wael Alkhairo, the Executive Director of the ADAMS Center, to Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, the Director of Community Outreach for the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, students were able to have an exclusive experience on how they can formulate their own initiatives within their community.
The last two days were spent at Washington DC, where students were able to have one on one experience, meeting with Rumana Ahmed, Zaid Hassan, and other Congress members offices at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
The retreat concluded with graduation on the Hill, and site visit of the Capitol.