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"New Frontiers: Innovation Exchange in the Middle East" at Queens College on Sunday, Dec. 7 Brings Together Entrepreneurs and Artists

-- Original Thinkers and Leaders from Middle East and U.S. Counter Violence With Innovation; Will Focus on Transformations in Arts, Technology, Civil Society and Governance --

Third Annual Innovation Exchange, sponsored by QC’s Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religions Understanding (CERRU) and Center for Jewish Studies, will focus on innovations in the Middle East. Q&A throughout the program will invite audience participation.

Sun., December 7, 2-6:30 pm. The program will be divided into three segments (see p. 2)

LeFrak Concert Hall, Queens College
For directions, see

The event is free, but the public is strongly advised to register in advance by visiting or calling 718-997-2985 and leaving a message if necessary.

In order of appearance:

Basya Schacter, a singer best known for her globe-trotting seven-member world music ensemble Phaoroah’s Daughter. She is also a cantor for a Fire Island synagogue. Her seventh album “Dumiya,” which she calls a “prayer project,” was recently released.

Salman Ahmad, singer, songwriter, social activist, QC professor and founder of South Asia’s rock band Junoon who has performed at the U.N. and at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo.

Bashar Masri, a Palestinian American entrepreneur and founder of the real estate company that is building Rawabi, the first planned Palestinian city.

Mayyada Abu Jabr, a leader in education strategy, advocacy and development in Jordan and elsewhere in the Middle East. A scholar at the Brookings Institution, she has promoted quality education in the Arabic language and job training for underprivileged youth.

Theater panel:

Nathalie Handal, Columbia University professor, award-winning editor and author of many books related to Middle East poetry. As a playwright, her work has been produced at the Kennedy Center and Westminster Abbey.

Jamil Khoury, playwright focusing on Middle Eastern themes and Founding Artistic Director of Silk Road Rising, which promotes playwrights of Silk Road backgrounds. He is a Kellogg Executive Scholar at Northwestern University.

Michael Malek Najjar, director, playwright and professor at the U. of Oregon, he is the author of the forthcoming book, Arab American Drama, Film and Performance, a Critical Study, 1908 to the Present. His focus is on the burgeoning Arab-American arts movement.

Heather Raffo is the solo performer and writer of the Off Broadway hit, Nine Parts of Desire about the lives of nine Iraqi women. The play’s honors include the prestigious Lucille Lortel Award. She is now developing an opera on a U.S. Marine who served in Fallujah.

Eli Nechama is principal of a school in Tel Aviv for “castoffs”—students from poor backgrounds, immigrants and refugees. His educational model, considered a replicable miracle, was the subject of the Academy-Award winning documentary, Strangers No More.

Sarah A.K. Ahmed is an activist for peace, human rights and women’s rights. She is founder of “Because I Love Peace,” a letter exchange between Iraqis and citizens of other countries and has worked as a volunteer in Iraqi refugee camps.

Sawsan Gad is co-founder of Harassmap, which uses online reporting and mapping technology to help mobilize people to speak out and act against harassment. She left Egypt in 2010 to serve as GIS anyalst for the World Bank but continues her work on this project.

Emma Goldman, currently completing her Master’s degree in Human Rights at Columbia University, has traveled widely and has a passion for Israel, Africa and the environment.


2:00 - 2:15    Music (Basya Schacter joined by Salman Ahmad)

2:15 - 2:20    Welcome (Sophia McGee, CERRU Associate Director and Mark Rosenblum, director of CERRU and the Ibrahim and Queens College Middle East Student Leadership and Dialogue Program)

2:20 - 2:45    Bashar Masri

2:45 - 3:15    Panel discussion by students who traveled to the Middle East with Prof. Mark Rosenblum  

3:25 - 3:40   Mayyada Abu Jabr

3:40 - 4:30   Theatre Panel (Nathalie Handal, Jamil Khoury, Michael Malek Najjar, and Heather Raffo)

4:30 - 4:55   Eli Nechama

5:05 - 5:10   Music (Salman Ahmad)

5:10 - 5:25   Sarah A.K. Ahmed

5:25 - 5:40   Sawsan Gad

5:40 - 5:55   Emma Goldman


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