Earlier this month CAIR-Chicago held its bi-annual Muslim Youth Leadership Symposium (MYLS) co-sponsored by the Muslim Student Association at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The full day symposium, titled “Skin Deep: Paint with the Colors from within,” hosted a select group of several dozen students from various schools, both public and private, across the Chicago-land area. Sessions touched on key issues such as educating others, cultural sensitivity, bullying, and discrimination. The idea of how to represent oneself, as an American-Muslim, was key throughout all sessions, as was how important it is to keep an open mind and accept others, despite differences.
Aymen Abdel-Halim, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago
Muhammad Tauseef Akbar, Research Consultant
Jamil Askar, Chicago Police Department
Arsalan Bukhari, Executive Director, CAIR-Washington
Gerald Hankerson, Outreach Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago
Agnieszka Karoluk, Former Communications Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago
Nour Zein, Zakat Foundation
The day’s most popular speakers were CAIR-Chicago’s staff attorney, Rabya Khan, who gave an exhilarating “Know Your Rights” interactive workshop for the students, and Jacinda Bullie, from Kuumba Lynx, who offered an inspiring keynote address, which left participants wanting more.
MYLS is designed as an interactive program. Participants worked together by sharing stories, listening to one another, and learning the importance of learning to define themselves. The participants learned that many of them shared the same difficulties and struggles, even though they came from various backgrounds. It allowed them to connect and open up to one another in ways that is usually seen as being difficult for junior high or high school students.
Organizers hope to create a multiple-day interactive program in which the students are able to connect with students from other youth organizations/programs to broaden their learning environment and atmosphere. This is only one way in which MYLS hopes to influence Muslim youth to become better involved within their communities and to become more involved in civic engagement.
To learn more about MYLS, visit our website or contact CAIR-Chicago’s Youth Development Fellow, Fatima Ahmed, at firstname.lastname@example.org.