Earlier this year, Fadia Abdelrahman, President of the Sudanese Community in Central Pennsylvania and an immigrant leader in the CWS network, had the opportunity to attend the first ever Eid al Fitr celebration at the White House with her two daughters. Reflecting on the experience, she noted how the experience made her feel not only welcomed and loved, but truly a part of the country.
As we continue into an election year where love and welcome are not generally part of the political narrative, let us reflect on her experience, urging our political leaders to continue the legacy of acceptance, compassion, and welcome demonstrated through her experience.
Read Fadia’s full reflection:
“I was honored to receive an invitation to celebrate the first Eid Al Fitr as a Muslim leader in my community. It was my first official visit to the White House; I didn’t know what to expect. I started to prepare myself and my two daughters for the occasion along with the whole community; everyone was so excited and supportive. However, the day before we left, my kids started to get a little bit nervous, and even tried to change their minds about going. But I told them, ‘This is the White House, last minute cancellations are not allowed!’
The ride from York, Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C. was very smooth. I said my traveling prayer all the way to the White House. As a Muslim traveler, I always expect big delays at airports because of my hijab, so I was prepared for the worst. But surprisingly, the line, security check, and communication with the staff was the best experience I had since arriving to the U.S. 18 years ago.
I always thought the White House was for very special people – excluding my family, the people in my community, and myself. However, I was wrong. We felt very welcomed and at ease as if we were at home or visiting very close relatives that love us so much and were very happy to have us.
I want to thank the President, the First Lady, and the staff for their hospitality and the warm welcome that everyone felt. They truly made us feel that the White House is America’s House and everyone is special, regardless of who they are.
The biggest surprise was at the end when my daughters said they didn’t want to go home – a big change from the day before when they said they didn’t want to come with me! The change was all because of how happy and comfortable they were.
I would love to see as many diverse Americans having the same experience we did – feeling proud and loved like my daughters and I did on our first visit to America’s House.”
Fadia Abdelrahman is an immigrant leader working in her community in Pennsylvania and a leader within the CWS IRP network.