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Islamic society event offers cultural education

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FREDERICK, Md. (AP) - The Islamic Society of Frederick's youth club members born in the United States or who came to America at a young age don't know a lot about their native countries. An event held this month by the recently organized group seemed to make a lot of progress in filling the education void.

"I think the youth club was a really good way for me to communicate with other people and learn about my country," said Nour Ali, 12, whose native country is Egypt. "I know only about America. I came over when I was 5 years old."

Youth club members planned an outdoor event over three months, highlighting seven countries - Yemen, Palestine, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Niger and Jordan. The two-hour event featured educational facts and foods from each country, a unity-themed skit performed by members of the group's drama club, recitation of the Quran and a five-minute lecture by the club's communications members.

The event also featured a slideshow of the club's meetings and activities in preparing for the day, trivia games and activities as well as distribution of certificates and recognition of the children and adults who shepherded the youngsters.

The three-month experience also taught Nour to be responsible.

"We learned that you can't fool around when you have responsibility to do something; you learn to stick to your task and focus," Nour said.

Creating tri-fold boards with facts about each country was the high point of the project for Aly Sabry, 11.

"It was very educational," Aly said. "I got on the computer and got some facts about my country - Egypt; plus, we got to teach our language to other kids, and they taught us their language."

Eyad Bedas, 9, whose native country is Palestine, said the project made the club members "feel like we were very important to the world, and we're helping to support our religion."

"The planning was intense, and we were concerned that everything needs to go right, and so far, everything's going perfect," Eyad said halfway through the two-hour event.

The brief lecture by the club's communications team stressed unity.

"These days, Muslims are not known by their faith; instead, we introduce ourselves as Pakistanis, Arabians, Bangledeshis, Egyptians, Africans or Americans," Mahad Mubariz said during the lecture. "We judge each other as old, young, rich or poor, but we forget our first identity is being a Muslim.

"Allah tells us directly in the Quran to stay united as the Muslim Umman, not as different nations who claim to be Muslim nations."

The youth event was the result of three months of planning, said Hiba Tayea, who guided the children, assisted by other volunteers.

Planning the event "stressed the importance of being active in the society we're living in, team work and interpersonal skills," Tayea said. "I think they came away as better team players and knowing how to plan an event."

Money generated from the food sales will be used to fund additional youth projects.

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Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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