International speaker and spoken word poet Amal Kassir together with local artists created a magical atmosphere of love and harmony in the cultural hub of Western Sydney on Saturday 30 March 2019.
The local speakers included hijabi ballerina and Converse global brand ambassador Stephanie Kurlow, Unity Grammar spoken word finalist Nahida Hafza, African refugee and poet Roje Ndayambaje, lawyer and Bankstown poetry Slam co-founder and Auslan sign language specialist Mevlut Cet.
The event, hosted by Unity Grammar in cooperation with Bankstown Poetry Slam was organised by Rahaf Ahmad from Whiteflame Strategy and attracted a full house of more than 400 people including celebrities like Hazem El Masri and future 2022 Olympian Amar Hadid.
Amal Kassir is a Muslim Woman, born and raised in Denver, Colorado, to a German American Mother and a Syrian Father. She is an International speaker, spoken word poet and TEDx presenter having performed in 14 countries and over 45 cities.
She has conducted workshops, given lectures and recited her poetry in venues ranging from youth prisons to orphanages to refugee camps to schools and universities to churches to community spaces and even the United Nations. Her TEDx Talk “A Muslim on the Airplane” and other talks on YouTube have attracted millions of views!
Amal was a guest of Unity Grammar recently where she addressed not just the students and community of that school but in the spirit of promoting community harmony and goodwill, Unity Grammar also hosted a number of other Islamic schools to hear Amal’s message of identity, hope and humanity.
The program at the Highline Venue in Bankstown was started by Osman Karolia with welcome and acknowledgement of country followed by recitation of Quran by Abdul Hamid Hamdache and translation by Serene Khalaf.
Nahida Hafza recited her poem titled ‘Brave child’ while Roje Ndayambaje recited his poem ‘The mirror of the refugee child’ addressing his future son.
Hijabi Ballerina Stephanie Kurlow in an excellent display of oratory, passionately talked of her journey from her childhood towards becoming a first hijabi ballerina on the world stage. This was followed by Sarah Mansour reciting her very first poem she composed at the start of her career.
During her keynote address, Amal shared her journey of overcoming challenges to triumph in her individual pursuits whilst holding firm to her identity. Her father is of Syrian background while her mother is of German heritage.
She acknowledged, how much she felt at home with the talented speakers during the night and the enthusiastic audience who were enjoying all the spoken word artists. She talked about tackling issues of identity, racism, and social injustices and her passion for addressing the plight of the Palestinian people.
Auslan sign language from Mevlut Cet who through tears thanked Unity Grammar for catering for the deaf community, a first for public lectures in the Islamic community.
Osman Karolia thanked the major sponsors Khalil Hafza and Amen Zoabi from Binah Group who always support such initiatives to build communities, empower youth and provide assistance to those in hardship.
Photography by Samet Erkut.