San Jose State U. Club Cooks Up Awareness For Darfur

This story was written by Dina Baslan, Spartan Daily
Michael Grossman, a senior global studies and Spanish major at San Jose State University, started the Muslim-Jewish-Christian Coalition this semester with the belief that students following the Abrahamic religions can work together for community service.

The organization takes in students from different religions as long as they support the cause of giving back to the community, Grossman said.

On Monday afternoon, the 15 members of the organization held its first event on campus -- a kosher/hallal barbecue in recognition of the war in Darfur. Along with barbecuing hot dogs and hamburgers, they attempted to spread awareness about warfront area in Sudan, Africa.

"We are focusing on Darfur because it's a big conflict, a big problem," Grossman, 21, said. "Because all three religions focus on helping people, we decided to come together over that goal and help them out."

Mohammed Yousef Nawabi, a senior biology major, said the group is trying to raise money for the Darfur case through student contributions. He said a clothing drive will be held in April to help the homeless in the area.

"Our main goal is to raise awareness," Nawabi, 21, said, "and let people know that we're here, and that it's an open environment for anybody of any faith to come and join us and work for a good cause."

Members of the organization played the documentary "Voices of the Sudan" on a TV by the barbecue pits. They distributed informative fliers and invited speakers Peter Akau and Mach Gong to talk about the importance of understanding conflicts in their home country - Sudan.

Billal Asghar, a senior global studies and health science major, thought it was important to hear what students from Sudan have to say to others on campus.

"People know what Darfur is, but not many people know what exactly is going on," Asghar, 22, said. "And to humanize it, it's good to put a picture of somebody who's actually been through a genocide."

Gong and Akau talked to students about a number of conflicts in Africa, including China's supply of weapons in return for its use of Sudanese oil.

They said they appreciated other students' interests and efforts in raising awareness about what is happening in Sudan.

"Whatever somebody can do, it can make a difference," Akau said. "Regardless of whether it's not gonna succeed, you can try. Then you don't blame yourself because later on you may say, 'If I had done something these things wouldn't have taken place.'"
© 2008 Spartan Daily via U-WIRE