Eggplant, kebabs, hummus and tabouli never looked so good.
International Wright State University students from the LEAP Intensive English Program, as well as faculty, alumni, friends and relatives gathered at the Pasha Grill on July 17 to break their fast as part of observing the holy month of Ramadan.
More than 50 people, representing China, India, Kuwait, Libya, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and the United States, attended the fifth annual event.
“I had a wonderful opportunity to sit at the same table with 50-plus students, staff and faculty from numerous countries and different religious beliefs coming together for this event as one Wright State family,” said Phani Kidambi, Ph.D., director of the Wright State International Gateway. “Kudos to LEAP for arranging such a fantastic event, which made our international students feel at home away from home.”
LEAP provides full-time English instruction and helps non-native speakers develop the linguistic, academic and social skills they need to be successful. There are currently about 170 students in the program, up from roughly 25 in 2002.
In 2010, LEAP experienced an increase in the number of students from countries where Ramadan is observed.
The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is observed as a month of fasting. Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and smoking from dawn until sunset. The fasting is also typically accompanied by prayers and reciting the Quran. Spiritual rewards for fasting during Ramadan are believed to be multiplied.
In many of the home countries of Wright State’s Muslim students, the social structure accommodates the month of Ramadan. However, life goes on as usual in the United States, requiring observing students to show up at work and school during the fast.
“Teachers noticed the strength of the students as they continued to keep up their coursework and responsibilities during the fast, and we wanted to show our admiration for them,” said Catherine Crowley, assistant director of LEAP. “We also wanted to learn more about their culture and the holy tradition.”
So in the summer of 2010, LEAP organized the first Ramadan Break the Fast event. It was hosted by the Pasha Grill at The Greene in Beavercreek, which specializes in Middle Eastern dishes such as hummus, karniyarik (stuffed eggplant) and moussaka.
Nearly 40 people attended the first event, including LEAP students, friends, family and teachers from around the world. A special menu was designed for the group.
“Pasha created a wonderful experience and venue for us,” said Crowley. “We have continued the tradition to honor Ramadan and our students since then.”
Pasha managers Osman Saki and John Emre Bektas said they were pleased to host the celebration and have enjoyed it every year.