By Aisha Farooqi
|Extravaganza participants enjoy the festivities.|
|Almas Akhtar speaks to the Extravaganza audience.|
This past Sunday, May 6, 2012, afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending a beautifully organized and deeply inspirational event held by my dear friend, Almas Akhtar. I have always been inspired by her ability to bring incredibly important issues to light in a tasteful, yet enjoyable manner and Sundayâ€™s event was no different.
Aimed at highlighting the role of women, especially immigrant women residing in the United States, the â€œSpring Extravaganza: Celebration of Womenâ€ was stylishly arranged by three amazing women: Almas, Soobia, and Reema.
Upon arriving at the Grand Ballroom at Hyatt, I was struck by the exquisitely furnished hall, embellished with colorful, yet soft lights and a spectacular backdrop. After having suffered through two final examinations (I am in my last year of law school), I was greatly pleased by the ambience of the ballroom, and felt as if I had stepped into a spa!
The event began with the melodious singing of Daniyal. Following the musical performance, guests were served mouth-watering lunch. Emcee, Sarah spoke briefly about the various roles embraced by a woman, as a mother, a daughter, a wife, a caregiver, a friend, and a confidant. The highlight of the event was a short video highlighting nine local immigrant women from various cultural and religious backgrounds, discussing their â€˜immigrantâ€™ stories in their own words.
Following the short video, Almas Akhtar took the stage and informed the crowd that the keynote speaker, actress/ model/ social worker, Somy Ali, was unable to attend the event due to an unforeseeable family emergency. However, Somy was kind enough to send a short video in which she apologized for her inability to attend the event, a gesture, which the crowd seemed to appreciate.
A little later, Ms. Akhtar enlightened the crowd by discussing some famous immigrant women and their contributions to the American society, including such notable figures as Madeline Albright, Audrey Hepburn and Nikki Haley. Ms. Akhtar referred to the â€˜great markâ€™ left by these women on our great nation, adding to its â€œuniqueness.â€ Ms. Akhtar also shed light on the contributions of Pakistani/ Indian American women, noting, â€œour spicy food and our glitzy fashion is not only popular among us but also has left a deep impact on the American Culture.â€
One cannot deny the effect immigrants have had on the United States.
Films such as â€˜My Big Fat Greek Wedding,â€™ â€˜Spanglish,â€™ and most importantly, â€˜The Godfatherâ€™ are all based on immigrant experiences and have been greatly appreciated by the masses. In addition to films, ethnic cuisine consisting of such treats as tandoori chicken, hummus, and paczki are becoming more and more popular, gifts from immigrant women, for which we are eternally grateful!
I would like to personally thank Almas, Soobia, and Reema for their dedication and hard work in organizing this incredibly educational and enjoyable event. As guests, we were granted a glimpse into the lives of immigrant women, their struggles, their achievements and their dreams. I marvel at the resilience of these extraordinary women who managed to create a new life in a foreign land, becoming pillars of strength for not only their families, but also society at large. As a daughter of an immigrant woman, I now walk with my head held high, my heart bursting with pride, and the newly discovered realization that I have some big shoes to fill!