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One of the cultural productions that occur in the Townsend Harris High School community, Hennafest 2016 took place on January 15th. Keeping with the same affordable prices, members of the THHS student body, along with alumni and other high school students were all invited to partake in the event.
As endorsed by the name of the event, Henna was offered to all those who wished to have the decorative feature on their arms. There was an additional booth for all females who wished to try on a hijab. With different fabrics and designs, they were allowed to pick which they preferred and watch the process of how it was put on. With the offering to document the moment with a photo at the end it made for a memorable experience. For the students who bought the food specific tickets, there was various ethnic food on display and served among the participants of the event.
Organized by the Muslim Student Association along with Ms. Fee, their advisor, this Hennafest was titled Hennafest 2016: Combatting discrimination. Co-president of the MSA, Aqid Sadique says, ” It’s no secret that discrimination is prevalent in society, not just for Muslims, but for African American, women, [and] people from the LGBT community. And we, at the MSA, thought that there would be no better topic to discuss than the problems that so many of us face.”
The guest speaker for the evening was Brother MD Hasan, the youth coordinator at the Jamaica Muslim Center. He spoke thoroughly on the topic of discrimination in hopes of getting the audience to think about the issues people must face daily in society. Co-president Sarah Deflilipo recalls, “Brother Md spoke really strongly about a lot of things and I think what he said about being true to who you are resonated with everyone in the room.”
The evening continued with performances. One of those were from students of Brooklyn Technical High School as they joined the event, for the very first time, as performers. Their performance, an acapella, was met with enthusiasm from the crowd. They had performed the same song before at MIST, which they won first place at. A member of the Townsend Harris MSA recruited them.
Other performances included juniors Sumaita Hasan ad Noorshifa Assath who sang at the event also. Junior Sarah Gafur performed her original poem entitled, “Two Tone”, to the audience.
Senior Ashley Aviles came to the event for the first time and commented, “As a senior, not only did it make me question why I haven’t gone before but also made me understand a culture far more beautiful than just the henna on my right hand.” Aqib agrees with this sentiment saying, “The best thing about Hennafast to me would be that it brings so many people together and introduces this culture that everyone can enjoy.”