Education: The path to a better tomorrow
March 3, 2019
Written by Samantha Wiedner
The first conversation that I had with Kathy Garms took place in a small boutique that I worked in high school. She hadn’t come into the boutique with the intent to recruit new members to the Abdelkader Education Project (AEP) community, however, when Kathy is involved, things always have a way of falling into place. She struck up a conversation with me about AEP and the student essay contest, suggesting that I apply for it. The most appealing thing about the essay contest was not the thought of winning, but what I could learn from it. A woman stood before me who, given the chance, would spend the entire day talking about the Abdelkader Education Project and its significance in the world today. The passion with which she talked about the organization was something that just exploded out of her and filled the room. I figured that it must be worth checking out if it could get someone that riled up. After our conversation, I decided to read Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abdelkader by John Kiser and participate in the student essay contest.
Fast-forward to today, I have been involved in AEP for almost 3 years and have watched so many new projects and ideas sprout out of the people involved in this organization. I have met amazing people who want to build a better future by uplifting the communities they live in. The people involved in AEP are all working towards a world where a mutual respect and understanding between cultures of the world thrives, starting with their own communities. Our organization works to promote cultural literacy through education, using humanitarian and human rights leader Emir Abdelkader as an example of what it means to value everyone, regardless of cultural religious differences. By drawing on the Emir’s life, the Abdelkader Education Projects hopes to expose people to a historical leader who was a beacon of light in the dark and to inspire them to be the light in their own community. Mistrust is born out of a lack of understanding, and by educating ourselves and our community, we are able to dissolve our previous stereotypes and build a stronger world, together.
One of the ways that we hope to achieve this is with the new Abdelkader Prize for Educators that has launched this year. AEP has partnered with the Center for Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations at Merrimack College to make the educator award possible. This new initiative hopes to introduce Emir Abdelkader to middle and high school teachers, as well as college and university faculty, who will then incorporate what they have learned into their lesson plans. The AEP curricula and resources cover a broad range of subjects, including history, government, theatre, leadership development, etc. If you are an educator or know someone who is, please share the Abdelkader Prize for Educators with them. More information about resources and criteria can be found at https://www.abdelkaderproject.org/educator-contests/. Help us inform the teachers of today, so they can educate the youth of tomorrow.
Samantha Wiedner is a 2016 Abdelkader Global Leadership Prize winner and editor of the AEP Blog.