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By Henry Ballout, CAAP Intern

I am typing this blog shortly after the closing session of MOVE 2017 in Dearborn, Michigan and I am going to admit that I’ve found the whole conference experience amazing. It was such a privilege for me to be able to attend. MOVE 2017 was a first-of-its-kind national gathering that provided space for artists, activists, scholars, philanthropists, nonprofit organizations and others from the Arab American community to connect, learn and exchange ideas.

I knew this was going to be something special from the welcome reception on Thursday night that included refreshments, entertainment and a gallery talk by Nabil Mousa, whose work is presented in the Arab American National Museum exhibition American Landscape: An Exploration of Art and Humanity.

Friday did not disappoint either. Ilhan Omar, Jeff Chang and CAAP Founder Maha Freij did a great opening keynote, drawing from their experiences in Leading Through Challenging Times. There was a very stimulating Q&A session from the floor.

After the break, it was straight into the first of the concurrent sessions. Linda Sarsour kicked off the Activism Track by talking about how the current political climate has created several challenges for our communities which have also created an opportunity for us to come together to fight back to move our community forward, shaping the future we want to see. Farhan Latif kicked off the Philanthropy Track by sparking discussions for attendees to have throughout the weekend about the power of philanthropy to create change in their communities.

Leading through challenging times

This was then followed by a hilarious lunch plenary of Comedy as a Tool for Social Activism by Amer Zahr and Suzie Afridi. After lunch, the concurrent sessions continued with the first breakout sessions. I attended the Identity-Based Philanthropy: How Communities of Color are Changing the Face of Philanthropy session which showcased the rich traditions of giving in communities of color and discussed how identity-based philanthropic institutions are changing the field of philanthropy for the better. I really liked the discussion about the underserved communities banding together to form structures and systems of individual giving that addressed critical issues in their communities.

After the next breakout sessions, the closing session was a signature event consisting of a strolling dinner and reception in the Rivera Court at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) followed by the premier of a special project in the Detroit Film Theatre. This event included a discussion by Egyptian history and film scholar Mohannad Ghawanmeh.

MOVE 2017 was a great experience – there was so much enjoyable content that I wish I could have been in more than one place at once!

Make sure to check out all the great content from MOVE 2017 – including this keynote speech from Rev. Alvin Herring, Director of Racial Equity and Community Engagement at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation! 

See MOVE in action     View photos from the conference

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