2016 Bridges of Understanding Dinner Celebrates Global Citizenship
Recently, Bridges of Understanding, a nonprofit organization, had its annual awards gala at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse at Lincoln Center. The Benefit Committee of this event was made up of Ambassador Dina Kawar; Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba and Mrs. Abeer Al Otaiba; and Ambassador James Smith and Dr. Janet Breslin-Smith.
The Awards gala celebrates global citizenship and featured the annual presentation of the Building Bridges Award by David G. Bradley. This year’s recipient was journalist and founder of the Huffington Post Arianna Huffington. The awards gala also featured the first ever presentation of the Young Global Trailblazer Distinction Award. The award was presented to Chaker Khazaal, a refugee activist and author of “Confession of A War Child.” Khazaal was also honored as Esquire Magazine’s Middle East Man of the Year.
Both Khazaal and Huffington gave inspiring speeches where they talked about the importance of connecting people, countries, and cultures. After the speeches were over, Broadway artist Carrie Manolakas performed.
Bridges of Understanding partners with the United Nations in order to present the event. There was a virtual reality exhibition on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a set of goals adopted by World leaders with the goal of ending poverty, fighting different inequalities, and battling climate change over the next few years.
New programming includes Refugees Deeply, a unique subject platform designed to simplify the connection between human rights, environmental, legal, and geopolitical factors that make the refugee issue so difficult. The Youth Talk Exchange Program between Middle Eastern and US high schools will now feature middle school students, as both the United Nations and Bridges of Understanding agree that the program should start earlier. All funds that were raised during the awards gala will be donated to support the Bridges of Understanding’s education programs.
Bridges of Understanding is determined to help build understanding between American and Arab people through educational and outreach programs. Bridges of Understanding lends a helping hand and gives people the opportunity to be recognized by their peers. Americans can learn about the diverse Arab cultural legacy and find out more information about people who may have received an unfair reputation due to the sociopolitical climate. Bridges of Understanding has been promoting outreach and education for 10 years, and while progress has been made, Bridges of Understanding will continue to try to impact American and Arab people in hopes of strengthening their relationship and building a better tomorrow.