Swat MSA gathers community, celebrates Eid, and reflects

Creating an event on campus isn’t easy. At a small school like ours where students are constantly steeped in work, turnout for events are typically low, especially at dry spaces. Despite these setbacks, the Muslim Student Association (MSA), with the help of other student organizations and the Intercultural Center, was able to throw a hugely successful dinner for this year’s Eid Al-Adha on Friday, Sept. 23rd, in Upper Tarble.

Eid Al-Adha is a Muslim celebration, one of two ‘Eids’ (the Arabic word meaning holiday) during the year. This Eid honors Ibrahim’s (Abraham) willingness to sacrifice his son after God’s command. It’s a significant holiday for Muslims around the world, but one that can get lost in a place like Swarthmore for the small, but growing, Muslim population here. Thanks to the efforts of numerous people and organizations on campus, the significance of this holiday was felt on campus and celebrated by a diverse student body far beyond the Muslim student population.

The MSA executive board — President Yousaf Razvi ’18, Asma Noray (Auntie Asma) ’17, Nader Helmy ’17, Hanan Ahmed ’19, Zain Talukdar ’19, Ramish Azadzoi ’19, Mohammed Boozarjomehri ’19, and Mohammed Bappe ’19 — planned and met weekly for about a month before the event to iron out details and delegate the work involved. With the help of Mo Lotif, Associate Director of the Intercultural Center, the MSA was able to stay focused and on schedule. The group used Trello to help streamline the work and to collaborate with the Intercultural Center. As the vision for the event grew, more folks were recruited to join the team in a special capacity. Special recognition goes to Gursimran Pannu ’20, who created a Snapchat filter that was used throughout the night, and to Dorcas Tang ’19, who works on the Intercultural Createch team, for putting together a beautiful poster. A thank you is owed to Kyungchan Min ’18 for creating a video of the night, and to Hao-Tong Yan ’19 for his beautiful pictures capturing all the joy and festivities. Talukdar spearheaded the advertising for the event, as it was crucial to reach out to different pockets of students across campus. Razvi, Noray, Bappe, and Talukdar all bought the supplies from multiple stores, and Ahmed organized all the volunteers needed to setup and breakdown the event. Azadzoi worked closely with Mo to assist us in allocating money for all of the different expenses and make the overall budget for the event. Christine Lee ’18 assisted with the creation of the program, and speakers included Boozarjomehri, Noray, and Helmy alongside the MSA Student Advisor Umar Abdul Rahman.

The night started before any guests arrived. Lotif and the MSA began to set up the event several hours before it commenced. With music in the background, they danced and prepped for the the event. Christmas lights were strung all across the sides of Upper Tarble, and a photo backdrop  with Polaroids and a table of props were available for guests to use. White tablecloths and assorted candies covered tables, and LED candles in wine glasses sprinkled with glitter served  as centerpieces. MSA served close to 200 people including Swat students, Trico students, and  faculty. “We wanted the event to be interactive, but before we could start the night off, an organic sense of community was already being created as people mingled with music in the background,” said one member. Razvi opened the floor with a discussion on  the idea of community.

 

“Community is something you have to work for,” he said. “Sometimes, I don’t feel like there is much of a community here at Swarthmore, but times like this make me feel like the community here is vibrant and full of energy. Being a community is a process, and we all have to do our part in making it work.” Razvi’s words rang true throughout the night. Multiple student organizations and other interfaith groups, including members of DESHI, Kehilah, Islamic Studies Dept, Newman Club, SPC, Interfaith Center, and the Intercultural Center, which co-sponsored the event, were present for the dinner.

Many of the best moments occurred later in the night. The vibe of the room shifted as dozens of people lined up to take polaroid photos with their friends and strangers. Many lined up for Mehndi (Special shoutout to DESHI for the Henna). Many who were not even part of MSA stayed back to help clean up and break down the event while dancing to the music still playing in the background. It was a happy place, and words can’t express how thankful and blessed the entire MSA board felt that the event came together so beautifully. As they still marvel at how great the event turned out, they would like to thank everyone that assisted them in the process and to send love to all the cosponsors of the event. Creating a consciousness of community is not an easy task, and the board feels confident that, when we all come together to make beautiful events like the Eid Dinner possible, our community’s potential to strive is boundless.

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