Oct - Dec 2011, Other

Who’s Using “Hawo’s Dinner Party” and Why


Across the country from houses of worship to YMCA’s, libraries, classrooms and more people are taking a cue from Hawo. Community leaders are using her story to bring people together in established and informal settings to help deepen discussions, build new relationships, and break down stereotypes across faith, race, culture and citizenship status. You can use it too. Below are a few highlights to help you plan!

…More than 250 people attended this first-ever collaboration between local Muslim and Latina/o communities, convened by Puentes New Orleans, the Islamic Shura Council of Greater New Orleans and the Jefferson Muslim Association. In one of their earliest calls with Active Voice, staff members of Puentes one of the newest Welcoming America affiliates explained that in the face of an ailing economy and scarce resources, these two communities could not afford to stay divided. So working together, these local leaders held a community-building dinner featuring “Hawo’s Dinner Party” to help break the ice.

The module was “instrumental in creating dialogue within our audience,” according to Scarlett Lanzas, a member of the event planning committee. “We initially feared that there would be little participation,” she continued, “but were pleasantly surprised by the audience’s reaction and level of participation.” The screening has led to newfound Muslim representation in their Welcoming Committee and they are developing a Welcoming Louisiana Family Exchange project “to help recent immigrants live meaningful, fulfilling lives through education and cross-cultural exchange.” We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this wonderful new alliance!

“While the concept of holding a simple conversation may seem rather elementary, it’s the first step necessary in creating understanding and acceptance within two groups.” – Scarlett Lanzas, Puentes, New Orleans.