On July 9, Pacifica Institute San Diego partnered with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to host a Ramadan fast breaking dinner at the Mira Mesa office for members of the San Diego Community and local law enforcement.
The theme of this year’s event was “Building Hospitality as a Way of Sharing Cultures” and was centered on the idea that everyone in a community has a common connection that arises through sharing food, knowledge and understanding with those around you. The FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Birnbaum and Assistant Fire Chief Brain Fennessy were among the guest at the dinner.
The event began with a presentation from the Vice President of Pacifica Institute Atilla Kahveci, who discussed what the event was about and why it was so important for community involvement. Kahveci emphasized the importance of bringing cultures together, and the breaking of social stigmas that separate communities.
Although Kahveci presentation spoke about a serious community issue, he remained lighthearted throughout the presentation, making jokes along the way.
After the introduction Senior Management of Counsel and Outreach director from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Cindy Cipriani, outlined the importance of the event and provided examples of several Middle-Eastern countries that share beliefs.
Cipriani encourages audience members to shout out when their country was called, and one by one audience members proudly did just that. The presentation outlined how many audience members from different countries throughout the world were brought together, and how although audience members share both differences and similarities.
Pacifica Institute provided a short video explaining in detail the different aspects of Ramadan, how the fast breaking dinner works, as well as the call to prayer.
After the call to prayer, audience members indulged in a traditional fast breaking feast outlining foods from Mediterranean cultures around the world. The table was full of colorful traditional dishes and lively conversation by community members.
Later in the evening, Cipriani returned to the podium with Executive Assistant and Diversity Chair from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Blaire Perez. Cipriani and Perez served as the evening’s keynote speakers, outlining seven local San Diego community heroes. Each of these local heroes of different cultures and backgrounds announced throughout the presentation made and continued to make strides in the subjects of diversity social and cultural inclusion, and understanding between all groups of people.
Conveniently enough, one of the local heroes mentioned by Cipriani and Perez, Mohamed Ahmed, the co-founder of Communities United Reviewing East Africa (C.U.R.E.) provided the closing marks for the event.
Ahmed spoke candidly to the audience about coming to the United States and how many told him that living in the United States as a practicing Muslim would be a difficult journey. Ahmed conveyed to the audience exactly how important the event was to him personally, and thanked Pacifica Institute for creating the event to share his native culture with others.
As an employee of Pacifica Institute for the last two months, I have experienced a culture that I knew existed, but had never seen through my own eyes. As I sat in the ballroom accompanied by prominent community members, staff, and volunteers I had to opportunity to learn about a diverse culture and its practices through simply speaking with others around the table as we shared a meal together.
I believe that Pacifica Institute holds its own place amongst the communities’ local heroes, for creating a welcoming learning environment for all people.