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Photo by Gina Martinez
Al-Iman School in Jamaica celebrates “Heritage Day.”
By Naeisha Rose

Students at the Al-Iman School in Jamaica celebrated different cultures around the world at the school’s annual Heritage Day event last Friday.

Students from kindergarten to grade 12 showed off their handmade projects, illustrating the diversity, customs and history of countries all around the world. The daylong event featured performances, including the singing of national anthems and stage presentations on projectors.

Program coordinator administrator Rizwan Rizvi said the event is meant to provide an opportunity to connect to diverse cultural backgrounds and to establish an understanding and common ground with the rest of their society and country.

The focal point of the event was the visual presentations on display. Students brought in food, clothing and artifacts as part of their research. One student who worked on the Middle East brought authentic coffee and dates from Iraq. Students assigned to Morocco contributed a hookah and traditional clothing they were able to borrow from family friends who lived in the region. Other aspects of the presentations included the monuments and cultural staples made by hand using clay and other arts and crafts materials.

“It provides a hands-on learning experience to the students of Al-Iman School, where they would learn, utilize and polish their educational and social skills they acquired in their classrooms,” Rizvi said. “Preparing for this occasion provided students opportunities to utilize their knowledge of subjects such as history, art and natural sciences to create the displays with the help and guidance of their teachers and parents.”

Teacher Brother Zakaria said that during Heritage Day, students have the opportunity to explore the multiculturalism of New York. He said that because it is an Islamic school, Al-Iman — located at 89-89 Van Wyck Expressway — usually tries to connect the history of Islam in different places. For example, students who worked on South America included information about some of the mosques in Brazil and Argentina where there is a large population of Muslims.

“We try to link Islam in,” he said. “It’s not the main point of emphasis, Islam in these countries, but we try to dive into it, if there is any.”

The Islamic students who ventured into parts of the world like South America and Europe were particularly excited to show off new information they did not have much insight into previously.

Nour Hakio, who worked with fellow 9th graders on Northern European displays including Finland and Serbia, said researching the history of other cultures led to a better understanding of her own.

“This is the first year we’re doing cultures other than our own,” she said. “I’m Lebanese so I got excited because I thought I was doing Lebanon, but it turns out we got to do Northern Europe this year which was actually interesting because sometimes when you sit down and learn about another country that isn’t yours, you can actually learn more about your own. I learned that my culture itself has a lot in common with countries I never heard of before. It opened my eyes to see more about the world. I learned about events I never heard about before as well.”

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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