About 50 teachers and administrators at one Pennsylvania school district attended a recent training session on Islam and Arabic culture, during an all-day in-service workshop that came at taxpayer expense.
The workshop in the town of Lebanon was led by a former district Arabic translator, Mohamed Omar, who “took time off from his new job as a case worker for the Department of Human Services in Philadelphia to share his knowledge of Islam with the staff,” the Lebanon Daily News reported.
“I think this is the first time ever in the United States that a school district goes to a mosque,” mosque founder Hamid Housni told the Daily News. “Usually a representative of a mosque goes somewhere. We don’t have words to explain to you how we appreciate that. This is very, very special.”
The training session included a comparison-contrast of U.S.-Arab education, as well as a visit to a local mosque to learn more about the Islamic religion – and to join in the congregation’s prayer service, the news outlet said.
“We have so many students from different Hispanic countries, but slowly but surely the Arabic population is growing,” Omar said, EAGNews.org reported. “With Hispanics you have the language differences and certainly cultural differences, but there are similarities in their religious practices. Of course, the Arab language and the religion are very much different, but we are learning that there are also many similarities.”
Teachers and administrators removed their shoes at the mosque and mingled with the congregation, discussing God, Islam and Christianity, the news outlet reported.
“We believe we will be judged by God,” Omar said, at the mosque, EAGNews.org reported. “The more good deeds we do, God will forgive us in the end. … You must work. Faith without work will not be accepted.”
Teachers were given opportunity to ask questions and afterwards, called the event informative.
“It’s important that we educate ourselves about cultures that are different from our own and that we try to eliminate some misunderstandings,” said Lara Book, one of the teachers who attended, EAGNews.org reported. “And any way that I can communicate with my students … that makes it more meaningful or easier, it is a vital tool.”
Book also said: “Basically, although our cultures are different, the fundamentals of them are similar and we all want the same things, happiness for our families, health, and success. Although we might go about finding those things in our lives differently, from a cultural standpoint, we all want the same thing.”