An e-mail came to my inbox about two months ago. It was from Ari Alexander, co-executive director of an organization called Children of Abraham. It's an organization that fosters dialog between young Jews and Muslims from all over the world. This project is based on the Internet, so we can enter the dialog from any place in the world. I've been a member since 2004.
In his e-mail, Ari, an American Jew, asked me if I was interested in attending the Second World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace, due to take place in
I replied to Ari's e-mail immediately, telling him that I'd love to attend the congress as a Children of Abraham student, and see how the imams and rabbis made peace -- instead of killing each other. In response, Ari sent me a list of questions and said the Children of Abraham could send four (of its 147) students to the congress. The list of questions would help them choose the four lucky students. They would judge us based on our answers, so I gave them the best answer I could possibly give.
It took almost a week for them to decide who the lucky four were. I got more nervous by the day. I checked my e-mail every morning and evening with no avail. Finally, on March 3, I received an e-mail from Ari saying I had been chosen to represent Children of Abraham students at the congress. I was speechless and jumped from my chair to run around my house. I was very happy! March 3 was also my 19th birthday and Ari's e-mail was the best birthday gift I've ever had. Later, Ari told me that Children of Abraham could only send two students, not four, to the congress, and they chose me to be one of two. It was indeed an honor for me. I only had two weeks to get everything ready for
It stayed with me until my flight to
The congress organizer picked us up at the airport by bus. When I entered the bus, I felt like a stranger. The bus was full of bearded old men in black suites, and they were all staring at me, a girl wearing a brown sweater, jeans, sneakers, backpack and a look of exhaustion. A complete stranger. Some of them smiled and some of them gave me a "who-the-hell-are-you" look while I struggled to find a seat. Finally I found a seat beside a man with a white beard and black hat. He introduced himself as a rabbi from
When we arrived at the hotel, we didn't have much time to rest because we had to attend the opening ceremony. I was very sleepy, so I took a shower to refresh myself and prepare for the ceremony. I met Ari and Gul Rukh Rahman at the ceremony. Gul, a Pakistani Muslim, is a co-executive director of Children of Abraham too. I was very happy when we met. I've been working with them for two years via the Internet, and it was the first time I'd met them in the flesh. Ari also introduced me to Yasser Salimi and Pearl Gluck. Yasser is a Children of Abraham student like me, and