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BGSU hosts young leaders’ conference on future of U.S.-Muslim relations

Top students from across the country will meet at BGSU Saturday (July 15) to discuss "Hope Not Hate: The Future of U.S.-Muslim World Relations.”

The Young Global Leaders' Summit will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater. Participants have been selected from universities across the United States through a competitive nomination and application process, and are coming from as far away as Nepal and Egypt.

The summit is organized by BGSU student Jake Gallardo, a University Honors Program student from the Philippines, and sponsored by Americans for Informed Democracy (AID), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose goal is to inspire a new generation of internationalist leaders.

“As an international student with American and Muslim friends, I see the issues from both sides. I feel we need more informed decisions in the midst of the current tensions in the Middle East, especially between the United States and Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan,” Gallardo said.

“I see mutual skepticism and distrust between my Muslim and American friends, and I want to break this pattern and create a dialogue between them,” he continued. “In the future, 20-30 years from now, we will be the leaders in government, business and international organizations. Friendships formed now will be helpful for solving future conflicts, if leaders can simply pick up the phone and call one another to defuse tensions before they become global conflicts.”

The keynote address will be given by Dr. Michael Kraig, an expert on U.S.-Iran relations and U.S. national security at the Stanley Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization devoted to promoting a global, collaborative approach to international issues.

A number of other guest speakers will help students to see the larger picture in world relations. They include: Imam Farooq Aboelzahab, spiritual leader at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo; Nurten Ural, honorary Consul General at the Turkish Consulate in Detroit; Dr. Naji Arwashan, honorary Consul General at the Syrian Consulate in Detroit, and Barb Gottlieb, director of outreach at the Women’s Edge Coalition, a global nongovernmental organization based in Washington, D.C.

The conference will also feature workshops on strategies for discussing international issues with Americans and techniques for organizing town-hall meetings on America's role in the world. The workshops will prepare students to organize events on the same topics when they return to their home campuses this fall.

The BGSU summit is one of many such gatherings by young people around the country. In the fall of 2005 alone, AID hosted more than 250 major events across the United States—an average of more than two events a day. These events allowed students to videoconference with peers on all six major continents and to engage in town-hall discussion with community and world leaders.

See for more information and an application.

July 10, 2006