The University of Wollongong in conjunction with Amity College held the 7th annual Community Leaders Ramadan Iftar Dinner on Tuesday 21 May at the UOW Innovation Campus.

The night was a great success with over 110 attendees (faith, education and community leaders) from the Illawarra region and Sydney, including the Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbury and Local MP Mr Paul Scully.

The most engaging MC for the evening was Nick Rheinberger from ABC Radio.

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The aim of the dinner was to offer reflections on creating and sustaining meaningful relationships across diverse cultural communities.

Dr Mehmet Aslan, principal of Amity College Illawarra during his address said, “It is wonderful to be here to celebrate a sacred time on the Islamic calendar but also to come together and share our national diversity in faiths, culture and ideas.  In Australia, and indeed across the globe, there is an awakening that our diversity can bring unity and this has been demonstrated time and time again.”

While reflecting on Christchurch tragedy, he said, “More recently in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre or the Sri Lankan attacks. Our humanity prevails. Diversity is our strength. We were all united in grief. We all need to continue witnessing this greatness of compassion and unity because this is Australia and this is who we are.”

Local Lawyer Hayley Kelloway gave a speech on the topic of Ramadan and Social Harmony stating, “As a Muslim, it is really warming to know that people of different faiths, cultures and nationalities – acknowledge and respect, our adherence and participation in this blessed month…. I personally believe that perseverance in relation to social harmony is important. Education and understanding are fundamental steps of acknowledging and accepting others…..  “.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Health and Communities), Professor Alison Jones was the keynote speaker and gave an enlightening speech on the topic of social harmony amongst cultures reflecting on her own Welsh background and taught the audience about ‘croeso’, the Welsh word for welcome and shared a personal story of the unity and compassion.

Dr Melissa Thompson, Senior Manager of Advancement Services and Community Engagement said that UOW is proud to host an annual Iftar dinner as part of the University’s commitment to building community and extending hospitality.

Attendees were also treated to a lovely choir performance by Amity College Illawarra students, as well as being mesmerised by the live artworks of Ebru master, Fatih Sultan Kose.

Ebru is a traditional Turkish painting art (also known as marbling), in which colourful patterns are created by sprinkling and brushing color pigments on a pan of oily water and then transforming this pattern to paper.

Amity College is an independent, non-denominational, multi campus school operating in NSW since 1996. The school aims to develop a well-rounded person by having students exercise their social responsibility through engagement in community work, intercultural and interfaith activities with other students.

The University of Wollongong Community Engagement team aims to play an active role in maintaining close connections with the community. The university provides key social and economic initiatives that support the shared values of the university, the wider community and enrich our society.