SAN FRANCISCO — Palestinians from across the U.S., along with some who traveled from Palestine, celebrated the 51st annual Ramallah convention here last week.
A fashion show held during the annual Ramallah Convention in San Francisco on June 26. PHOTO: Ramsey El-Qare
"It brings the community together," said Jennifer Mogannam, a 22 year-old northern California native whose roots are in Ramallah.
"We're so scattered, so spread out, but this brings us back."
The convention featured several political and cultural symposiums over the four days addressing issues like the importance of the right of return and the history of Palestine. There were also dabke performances, traditional arts and crafts, Palestinian and pan-Arab organization booths, as well as evening socials and networking events.
For Mogannam, the highlight of the convention was a fashion show on June 26 that showcased fashion from designer Rami Kashou, whose roots are also from Ramallah.
"I think it highlighted a great accomplishment for a Ramallah native," she said.
Convention Chairman Samir Totah said he wanted the fashion show to help make the convention appeal to younger people.
"We (convention organizers) decided it was time to move on and meet the needs of today," he said.
He added that 90 percent of this year's convention was attended by the "younger generation."
"Only 10 percent of the older generation, like me, attended," he said.
Jennifer Mogannam also noticed that there was a large turnout among the 18-35 age group and said the conference seemed "youth friendly."
"I really enjoyed it," she said. "Youth can get easily bored with just many symposiums."
Ramsey El-Qare, another Palestinian-American from Al-Lydd who attended to represent the Palestinian Youth Network, agreed.
"There were lots of things for youth to do," he said. "For example, there was a boat cruise, a youth party, and a comedy show. It was a great experience."
Yet, Samir Totah, who was pleased with the overall outcome, still recognized the difficulty of organizing the convention.
"It's a challenge," he said. "It's not easy to keep our community together. Especially for the youth, who are interested in their own activities, we must find ways and means for them to stay interested and benefit."
He said it is integral for Palestinians in diaspora to continue to gather with each other and recognize their roots.
"This is how we maintain our strength and maintain our heritage."
The 50th Ramallah convention was held in Dearborn.
The 52nd Ramallah Convention is planned for July, 2010 in Ohio.
For more information, visit www.afrp.org.
A number of national religious organizations with Arab American congregations are holding their annual conventions this holiday weekend.
The 45th National Melkite Convention began this week in Woodland Park, NJ. Visit stannmelkite.homestead.com for details.
The Texas-based Muslim Congress is scheduled to hold a religious conference with an exhibition on the life of the Imam Ali at the Hyatt Regency, 600 Town Center Drive in Dearborn on Saturday and Sunday. Visit www.muslimcongress.org for information.
The Indiana-based Islamic Society Of North America's 46th annual convention runs through Monday in Washington. Visit www.isna.net.
The Florida-based American Druze Society's 63rd annual convention runs through Sunday in Washington. Visit www.druze.com for details.
The Brooklyn-based National Apostolate of Maronites is holding its 46th annual convention this Fourth of July weekend in Los Angeles. Visit www.namnews.org for details.
And the Midwest Antiochian Christian Diocese Parish Life Conference began on Wednesday and runs through Sunday in Cincinnati. Visit www.stjamesloveland.org.
Local festivals continue
Detroit's Comerica Cityfest, formerly known as Tastefest, continues through Sunday, and the summer festivals will keep coming.
Our Lady of Lebanon Church is to hold its Mid-East Festival on July 10 and 11 at 4133 Calkins Road in Flint. Visit www.mideastfestival.com.
The Arab and Chaldean festival and the Concert of Colors in Detroit are scheduled later this month, with Lebfest, the Arab American Comedy Show and other annual favorites later this summer.
Keep up with The Arab American News calendar in print and online at www.arabamericannews.com.