Coming Together Begins Celebration of Muslim Cultures at Opening Ceremony

Intricate dishes are presented at a cultural booth.

By Divitya Vakil, News Editor

The ninth annual Coming Together in Skokie had its opening ceremony at Niles West on Sun., Jan. 28. This year the committee decided to celebrate the Muslim-American cultures of the area.

Cultures are chosen based upon their active imprint in the township. Some cultures from previous years have been: Asian-Indian, Filipino, Greek, Assyrian, Korean, Chinese, “The Voices of Race” and Latinos/Hispanics.

Cultural booths from a variety of countries were stationed down the hallway at West. Each booth was decorated with specific clothing and artwork and offered food to people passing by. Everyone that was in charge of their respective booths was dressed in traditional clothing from the country they were representing.

Many West students appreciated that there were so many different countries represented at the event since the Muslim-American community is often used as an umbrella term.

“I think it’s important to see that there are many different cultures of Muslims and that we’re not just all in one category,” junior Laila Abdella said. “Niles West does a great job with celebrating the diversity we have, especially by hosting events like these. It’s very inclusive, and we are very representative of every culture.”

Senior Amina Ademi explained just how much work went into planning everything for the Bosnian and Herzegovinian booth.

“We started the planning around two or three weeks ago and spent three to four hours a week on things like the food, decorations, and what we were going to be wearing,” Ademi said. “We had to have some things imported, so we had to make sure they came in time, and we had to make sure that the meat we were buying was clean, and everything was good.”

The Niles Township area is the most diverse in the state, and superintendent Steven Isoye is proud to be a part of it.

“This is my second year, and I think it’s fantastic,” Isoye said. “I remember when I was working in another district, I had heard about this event when they were doing the ‘Voices of Race.’ It’s out there, and it’s far-reaching.”

The auditorium had a variety of performances such as poetry recitations, speakers, and musicians, emceed by NBC reporter Ash-har Quaraishi. Senior Sophia Abdella was one of the musicians and sang on stage.

“Performing at the Coming Together event was my third time performing this piece, and it’s the original, relatable message that kept me going,” Abdella said. “I always have really bad performance anxiety, but I play it off extremely well.”

The park districts are offering many ways to celebrate diversity. While this was just the opening ceremony, the month of February will be filled with book readings, lectures, films, performances and much more, all embracing the Muslim-American culture.

“For people to get along, they have to talk and know what each others’ cultures and lifestyles are,” Skokie Park District Representative Maureen Yanes said.