The Australian International Academy (AIA) Year 10 boys’ class from the two Sydney AIA Campuses and the Melbourne Campus took part in an international trip of Service and Action for the IB program along with a spiritual retreat of Umrah to Makkah and Madina last month.

Umrah trip Coordinator, Dr Abdurrahman Asaroglu and Student Management and Welfare Senior Teacher Mr Wassim Zoabi, have been leading this project since 2010.

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The memories of such a blessed trip remain etched in the students’ minds long after they have performed the blessed journey

“While Umrah trip expenses are paid for by the parents, AIA subsides Abu Dhabi component of the project.” Dr Asaroglu said.

AIA sister school in Abu Dhabi, Australian School of Abu Dhabi, which is also an IB World School, hosts the students from the Sydney and Melbourne campuses.

Mr Zoabi further explained “our students from Melbourne and Sydney not only participate in workshops, seminars and class activities with Abu Dhabi students, but they also experience the unique culture of the region through Safari visits, Farari world and site visits by engaging with local Emirati students.

“They then move to Madina first to inhale the spiritual atmosphere to enhance their values starting from care and compassion for one another, doing their best, Integrity, respecting one another, being responsible, practicing fair go, tolerance, honesty, trustworthiness and taqwa”, Dr Asaroglu added.

Under the guidance, care and support of their teachers and mentors, students engage in many team building activities that promote these values and allow students opportunities to practice and embed these qualities in their character.

Baraa, one of the students from the Strathfield campus who participated in the program said “environment has strong effect on people and I felt like crying when I first saw and touched the Kaaba.”

Saj, another student from Kellyville campus indicated that he felt more spiritual naturally without forcing himself.

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“I guess it’s to do with holy places where thewhole time I never did anything wrong to anyone and I never got in trouble practically enjoyed my life. I loved the food too but the only thing I missed is my mom.” He said.

Mrs Mona Abdel Fattah, the Principal of the Kellywille Campus and Deputy Director of AIA Schools said “The Umrah journey with the school provides a strong foundation for students to build on their future learning and spiritual growth. It certainly is an experience that helps motivate and inspire students to strive to be the best Muslim they can be at whatever challenges they are faced with.”