S.A. Ibrahim

M

y family is proud to sponsor this program at Queens College. It would have been difficult to not continue the program after hearing about the experiences of the participants from the program and reading their Impact Plans. It was particularly moving to hear how all the participants, who were knowledgeable and well informed about the cultures and religions of the Middle East to begin with, gained even greater respect and understanding as a result of their participation in the program. Equally, if not more impressive, was the manner in which the participants themselves demonstrated one of the best aspects of America—the effortless ease with which Americans of different faiths interact, collaborate and form work and social relationships with each other without differences in faith getting in the way. It is our belief, that by sharing this wonderful aspect about our country, we can someday bring down the barriers that divide so many in parts of the world where religious and cultural differences divide people and keep them from appreciating the common human good in each other.

The Ibrahim Family Foundation, while small, has the lofty goal of “sharing America with the world and sharing the world with America.” The participants in the Ibrahim & Queens College Leadership Dialogue Program have the opportunity to make a big difference in the lives of the people they touch, by sharing themselves as representatives of the America of tomorrow. At the same time, as future American leaders, the participants have the opportunity to gain deeper appreciation of the cultures and religions of the Middle East—a region critical to the security and prosperity of the world. As future American leaders, someday the participants will hopefully play a role in turning a part of the world that is known today as a region of conflict into a region of promise.

Winston Ibrahim

T

he Ibrahim & Queens College Leadership and Dialogue Program in the Middle East has its roots in the aftermath of the horrific events of 9/11. As with every average Muslim family we were shocked and dismayed to see those professing our faith carry out such infamy. Struck by these feelings we began to search for a way that we could build greater cultural understanding, particularly in regard to the Islamic World and the West. America is unique for the general cooperation and intermixing of peoples of all different faiths and backgrounds. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, we thought, if we could somehow harness this greatest of all our natural resources and refine it to the point where it could possibly make some small difference in the wider world? Five years ago, it seemed imperative to us that in the middle of the worst recession in a century, the U.S. should not fall for the hollow comforts of isolation. More than ever it was crucial that global travel and the experience of connecting with the “other” should be sought out. Eight months later in June 2009, having bridged countless obstacles, and on the day of the historic Cairo address, our first trip was launched. The results were better than we could have ever had hoped for. Young leaders, brimming with talent and excitement, returned from the Middle East, not jaded or cynical from the considerable issues facing the region and their global implications, but rather even more energized than before.

Ibrahim Program with Queens College
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