On December 7th, “Bridges of Understanding” (BOU), a non-profit organization that aims to overcome the divide between the United States and the Arab world, hosted its 9th annual awards gala at The Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse at Lincoln Center in New York. Founded in 2007, BOU creates educational programming to further global citizenship initiatives in schools.
Arianna Huffington, co-founder, and editor of the online news site, The Huffington Post, was presented with the “Building Bridges” award by Atlantic Media owner, David G. Bradley. The organization also honored Chaker Khazaal with the first ever Young Global Trailblazer award for his work as a refugee rights advocate and novelist. Khazaal is the author of “Confessions of a War Child,” a trilogy that focuses on the plight of refugees in a world of increased terrorism. Khazaal was also named Esquire Middle East’s ‘Man of the Year’ for 2016.
Guests were treated to a special performance by Broadway legend Carrie Manolakos as well as insightful speeches by the award recipients.
BOU partnered with The United Nations to host the event which included a virtual reality presentation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The exhibit outlined the 17 measures adopted by world leaders in 2015 to reduce poverty and combat climate change worldwide. The new Goals are unique in that they call for action by all countries, rich and poor, to invest in sustainable techniques to end poverty.
With the help of the event’s benefit committee which included Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba and his wide Abeer, all fundraising proceeds from the event will support BOU’s education initiatives. Refugee Deeply, BOU’s newest programming, provides in-depth and unbiased coverage of the Syrian refugee crisis and works to untangle the complicated geopolitical, legal, and human rights issues surrounding the problem. BOU also promoted its outreach program called Youth Talks, a school video exchange program that exposes students to diverse viewpoints through empathy and communication.