Nada Mohamed Wafa – The First woman to represent Qatar in the Olympics

 Nada Mohamed Wafa  

The First woman to represent Qatar in the Olympics

Nada,  the daughter of  former Qatar National Football Team goalkeeper and Al Sadd player Mohamed Wafa; discovered her passion for swimming at a very young age, her perseverance and passion for swimming have made her  the first woman to represent Qatar in the Olympics – London 2012

A young dynamic individual whose dreams to compete in the Olympics came true.

Armed with her big dreams, inspiration and the will of a game changer, Nada continues to push forward with her dreams to bring home the Gold.

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Having completed the 50 m freestyle at the 2012 Summer Olympics, becoming the first woman to represent Qatar at the Olympics London 2012 and Rio2016,  Nada has also served on the bid committee for Doha’s bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.

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I had the opportunity to speak and interview Nada Mohamed Wafa.

Umm Suhail: Hello and thank you for the opportunity you have given me to speak to you

Nada: Hello, it’s my pleasure!

Q: Did you ever fantasize about being in the Olympics when you were a child?

A: Yes, actually when I was younger, I remember I was with my family, and at that time we were all watching the Beijing Olympics, specifically the swimming events, and I saw how Michael Phelps was owning it in the pool. From that age I was so passionate about swimming, I really had high goals and dreams to be in the Olympics. I even remember my family’s response when they told me “Inshallah if you continue to work hard you can make it to the Olympics”.

Q: Was there any particular event or athlete who impressed you early on?

A: There were many athletes earlier on that were inspiring to watch, such as Federica Pellegrini and Michael Phelps. When I competed in the London Olympics 2012 and Rio Olympics 2016, there were more athletes I was impressed by, such as Missy Franklin, Simon Manual, Katie Ledecky..

Q: Were you athletic as a kid? What made you want to start?

A: Yes, I started getting into sports at a young age. I tried out many sports, my mum put me in so many classes, such as swimming (ofc haha), basketball, ballet, netball etc to see which I enjoyed the most. I wanted to continue with swimming because I just fell in love with the water, I always loved being in the pool, whether it was to train or for fun, I just didn’t want to leave.

Q: Who encouraged you to pursue your sport?

A: First of all, I would like to thank my parents for always being there for me, for being the best support system and attending all my events to cheer me on. My friends as well were always supporting me, whether it’s on social media or coming to watch.

At the age of 9, I joined a small swimming club called Tidal Waves, and was coached by a lovely Scottish lady. She noticed how dedicated I was towards the sport, and how much I loved and was passionate about swimming, representing my school and club in many competitions locally and internationally, winning many medals and trophies, which made her realize that I could go far with it.

Q: How important is goal setting to your training?

A: Goal setting is very important, it helps lead me to the right direction, it gives me a long-term vision of what I want to achieve, and short-term motivation to constantly believe I can surpass my goals.

Q: What is your proudest moment as an athlete?

A: My proudest moment was when I got to be the first female Qatari swimmer to compete in the London Olympics 2012 and inspiring so many girls to dream big.

Q:Have there been any key turning points in your development as an athlete to reach this level, or has it been more a case of steady progression with the right support at the right time?

A: Honestly it’s been more of a case of steady progression with the right support from people at the right time. I like to take it day by day and live the present moment.

Q: What is your favorite stroke?

A: 50m butterfly and 50m/100m freestyle.

Q: Why do you like swimming more than other sports? Why?

A: Because it feels like I’m occupied inside a quiet, refreshing, technology free element, which helps me focus only on swimming and nothing else. Swimming is also known to be the best sport in terms of health and coordination.

Q: How long have you been swimming?

A: At the age of 9, when I joined my first swimming club, trained and competed.

Q: What is you fastest time in (favorite stroke and length)?

A: 50m freestyle 29.97 seconds.

Q: When do you practice? For how long?

A: 5 times a week for 3 hours (including land training)

Q: When you have an “off” day when motivation seems to elude you, how do you push through it?

A: I remind myself of the goals I set and how I want to achieve them, and I also think of what it feels like when such goals are met.

Q: Do you reward yourself when you reach goals? If so, which goals (large ones or the small ones, too) and how?

A: Knowing that I am able to reach my goals, no matter how big or small such goals are, and feeling really content about it is such a huge reward and honor for me.

Q: What is your training schedule like?

A: Land training 3 times a week for 30 minutes to one hour, then I get into the pool and do warm up and technique exercises, different sprinting sets etc. then stretches after training to cool off muscles.

Q: What are your favorite go-to meals and snacks?

A: Salmon (cooked or raw) and sushi, burgers (cheat meal) and for snacks I like to have bars, smoothies and ice cream

Q: How important is cross-training? What do you do for cross-training?

A: It’s quite important as it helps prevent injuries and maintain fitness and allows for better performance in the water. I usually work with some weights and circuit training.

Q: What was the last piece of advice your coach said to you before you competed?

A: “You can do it, go out there, do your best and have fun”.

Q: Do you have a word or mantra that you say to yourself when you’re competing?

A: “Be the best you can be”

Q: What one or two things did you do in your training that helped you to get this far?

A: Positive thoughts (keeping goals in mind), staying focused

Q: Do you hear the crowd roaring when you’re swimming?

A: Just before the starting blocks, I can somewhat hear the crowd, but once I take my mark on the starting blocks everything seems so quiet and I just focus on how I’m going to swim the race. Once the race is over, the sound of the crowd cheering comes rushing back again.

Q: What was the hardest part of getting to where you felt ready to compete?

A: Pushing through hard training sets that sometimes felt impossible to do, but I knew that once I finish them, and finish them well, that’s when I’m one step closer to reaching my goal.

Q: What was the atmosphere like at the Olympics?

A: The atmosphere was amazing! It was so lively and great sportsmanship all around! The athletes’ village was wonderful, especially when meeting new people and getting to know more about their different cultures. The opening ceremony was extraordinary. I was so proud and honored to hold my country’s flag up high (#yallaqatar) and knowing that I am inspiring younger generations to take part in sports, especially swimming.

Q: Have you ever felt like giving up while training?

A: Not necessarily give up, but thought it was impossible to do such a training set. It was tough at times but had to push through.

Q: Which cities do you train in?

A: Doha. I also went to a training camp in Hungary before the London Olympics 2012.

Q: What do you do on your days off?

A: Hang out with family, friends, relax (sleep in), spend time outdoors when the weather is nice.

Q: Who is the greatest athlete of all time?

A: I’d say Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps.

Q: Who is your best friend in sports?

A: It’s nice to have friends from all around the world and just meeting new people whenever there’s a competition, especially when you haven’t seen them in a while and reunite in different championships.

Q: What are your favorite colors to wear when competing?

A: Pink, purple, blue, green – those colors help to brighten up my day when competing.

Q: If you weren’t competing what would you want to do?

A: I would say working in the fashion industry because I love exploring fashion trends, the different designs, styles etc

Q: What are the “must” items that you keep in your training bag?

A: Kick board, flippers, paddles, pull buoy, snorkel, rubber band for training exercises, Gatorade, water bottle.

Q: What advice would you give to people who have a passion for sport but don’t have support from their families or their peers?

I would say dream big. Don’t give up and keep practicing to chase your dreams because sports is an important part in people’s lives as it encourages a healthier lifestyle. For example, if PE teachers notice that they have talented athletic students from a young age in schools or even universities, the first best thing to do is to inform their family, as a way of valuing and encouraging them to pursue their talents.

Q: Your advice for your and upcoming athletes?

My advice to them is to try their best no matter what and to believe in themselves. Take everything one step at a time, just enjoy what you do and keep going!

Q: What would you like your legacy to be?

Legacy of leadership and inspiration- knowing that I was able to inspire girls in my country Qatar or even around the world to be passionate and even if they do sports just for fun, as long as they aim to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Q: Your message for 2017?

If you are passionate about something, whether it’s a sport, a job, an internship or whatever it is, go out there and grab it, seize the opportunity and remember to be the best you can be and have fun! No matter what you encounter, you can overcome any barrier that comes in your way because you know you are doing what makes you happy and what you think can make a difference in this world.

Follow Nada’s jounrney on:

Instagram: @nadaarakji

Twitter: _nadooda

FB: nada arakji

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Fish for Thought???

Qatar saw the opening of Ocean Basket at the Mall of Qatar in December of 2016.

Ocean Basket (OB) is a South African brand with over 201 restaurants in 16 countries around the globe from Dubai to Durban, Nelspruit to Nigeria, serving affordable seafood sprinkled with its special Mediterranean magic.

The aesthetic of OB is a mix of contemporary/traditional  is easy on the eye. The atmosphere was amazing , with the sounds of people engaging in conversation, laughter and sharing moments over a good sea food meal.

Being South African, I wondered if they were able to bring the very same flavours to Qatar, so we headed to the Mall of Qatar to experience it first hand.

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The Manager’s engaging personality in true Lazarides style most certainly  “took me back home” making it a very pleasant experience.

We ordered one of the platters on the menu;

From the fish to prawns, the flavours were right on point. The prawns were succulent, the fish grilled to perfection, the calamari really tender, the mussels delicately seasoned – I would have to say that, Ocean basket Qatar  serves delicious seafood with their famous and irresistible creamy lemon sauce.

The generous portions combined with attentive service makes for a great lunch/dining experience and great value for money.

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“The success of the Ocean Basket brand is based on the basic formula of simplicity, excellent service, value for money and the most delicious seafood served piping hot in the pan, consistent in every Ocean Basket restaurant – https://oceanbasket.com/index.php/ocean_basket_world/blog/fats-lazarides-fish-for-thought

 

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mr ERBIL – Iraq’s First Gentlemen’s Fashion Club

“Mater artium necessitas” – Necessity is the Mother of Inventions

This could not be more appropriate for a group who calls themselves mr. ERBIL, after the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. Iraq’s first Gentleman’s Fashion Club, mr. ERBIL, have their eyes set on Pitti Uomo – the most important International event for menswear and men accessories collections and a platform for new men fashion projects.

With more than 30 core members, sharing the same vision,  25,000+ fans on Instagram and a strong Facebook presence, mr. ERBIL offers etiquette workshops, photography lessons /workshops, a modelling agency,  Rishn – Beard care range and social empowerment programs.

The young Kurds have chosen creativity as their medium of expression, aiming to create opportunities for a better future and promoting their region along the way.  They organize trade shows and cultural events to promote fashion.

Their signature style is one of sharply tailored suits crafted by craftsmen using local fabrics, inspired by the bygone era of the 1920/1930s, (an era of Kurdish landowners class, the Effendis). A mix of European and traditional Kurdish elements are very evident in their designs with special attention to detail.

Bringing about Social change

The members of mr. ERBIL represents young Iraqi Kurds who are looking for a better life, better opportunities and a more cohesive society whilst promoting Kurdish culture to the world.

mr. ERBIL actively supports and promotes women’s rights, frequently featuring women’s issues in Kurdistan, Iraq and the world, with one of the subjects being the effect and impact that the conflict in the region has had on Kurdish women

Thursday is “girl inspiration” day on mr. ERBIL’s page, promoting and encouraging women rights, women empowerment and uplifting community projects

I had the opportunity to interview mr. ERBIL members and this is what they had to share:

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Q: How did you get started?

A: We started and came up with the idea in 2015 and organized our first gathering on November 5, 2016.

Q: Why a Gentlemen’ fashion club?

A: We started with Gentlemen’s club at the beginning and we are also working on to open a ladies fashion club under the name of mrs. ERBIL.

Q: What inspired you to create this Brand?

A: We were influenced by PITTI UOMO, an event that takes place in Florence, Italy. But, ours was called GGE16 (Gents Gathering Erbil 2016). So, we as mr. ERBIL, have a gentlemen club here in the region; we get together and talk about the latest news about fashion, clothes design and new trends. Now, we have our “Made in Kurdistan” products, most of the suits were specially tailored for us, looking forward to attend PITTI UOMO event and representing our region and nationality as Kurds.

Q: How did you know that this is what you want to do?

A: Each of our members, especially the founders, had the passion for fashion, modeling and experienced in handcrafting goods and love what we do.

Q: What is the best thing about being a designer?

A: The best thing about being a designer is to bring your creativity into reality.

Q: What is designing to you?

A: It is freedom and love for the passion you have.

Q: How do you bring your inspiration into reality?

A: The main reason is to bring hope and bring back the taste of classic fashion style which we had back in 1920s known as “Effendies” style.

Q: How do you describe your creativity, style, and how is it different or not from yourself?

A: It is the taste of classic style with local and traditional touch.

Q: How did you get your first break?

A: We believe social media plays a vital role if you want to introduce yourself to the world and we are thankful for that. We have done a good job attracting people all over the world because we’ve done something new in our society bringing gentlemen who care about dressing well together

Q: What makes you unique from other designers?

A: We are influenced by the classic style and modernized it with the new fashion taste. We also show the people our national (cultural) Kurdish clothes (outfit) with different style based on different cities.

Q: What is a timeless piece to you?

A: we do care much about the details always, the way how the tie should be knot and also how the pocket square must look like, Blazers as well. But, overall, details matter.

Q: Do you have any special goals for your Brand ? (inspire anyone, win from other designers, be famous)

A: Of course, we have our goal to show the world that Kurdistan is as good as others and can be competitive.

Q: Can you describe how your Kurdish culture inspires your designs? What are the main elements of the Kurdish culture in terms of design?

A: As we mentioned before, the style comes from the classic times 1920s/30s which those Gentlemen called EFFENDI

Q: How do you see your brand contributing to change of perception in your region and about your region?

A: The goal is to promote local tailors that they are of international quality standards.

Q: Who do you design for and why?

A: We are just designing for our own brand so far.

Q: Tell me about the causes that Mr Erbil supports? And why?

A: Women’s rights, Human rights, Environment and Men’s health awareness (Movember).

Q: There is a trend right now using organic fabric, is this something that you see in your upcoming designs?

A: Yes there’s a special local organic handmade material which is completely natural called (KRR) which is mainly used in Kurdish traditional cloth which we are redesigning into our new collections.

Q: What do you hope to have achieved in the industry, 10 years from now?

A: That local handcrafted goods from Kurdistan is exported into international market.

Q: What is your message for all young aspiring designers in the competitive business of fashion?

A: If you set a goal for anything, you want to go for it. There is always failure with it no matter but always keep hard working on it and with time and passion, one day you will archive what you have set.

Q: What is the trend for 2017?

A: Our trend for 2017 is mixing classic design with modern design, elegance with a fresh touch.

For more information on Mr Ermil, click on below links:

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http://www.facebook.com/mistererbil/

http://www.instagram.com/mr.erbil/

http://www.facebook.com/rishnbeardcare/

http://www.instagram.com/rishnbeardcare/

http://www.mrerbil.com/

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Meet Selina Farooqui, a Doha-based Award Winning Fashion Designer!

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Today we meet Selina Farooqui,

Selina Farooqui, an award winning fashion designer(L’Officiel Inspirational Arab Woman Award 2012 – Young Designer of the Year, Doha, Qatar, 2012) created and launched her own label before she even completed her course at the young age of 25.

Selina Farooqui hails from India, raised in Doha, studied fashion at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCU-Q)

Invited to participate in global fashion shows including Tokyo, Istanbul, Virginia and MENA and 10 collection to her name, Selina will be showcasing her new collection later this year.

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Let’s get to know Selina Farooqui,

  1. How did you get started? My brand came about in an unexpected way. During my Junior year in university, during our annual fashion show, a local boutique spotted one of my jackets on the runway and approached me. At the time, I had created the collection as a university-only project, so to be approached by a buyer was an exciting and unexpected experience. She asked if I would design a special collection for her boutique; I said yes; and at that moment the brand was born. I then designed my logo, packaging, tags, everything really, and since that show in May 2010, my brand continues to grow and evolve, but still nods back to the aesthetic I created initially.
  1. What is your main source of inspiration in designing? India is a huge source of inspiration for me, the fashion, the handiwork, the embroidery, the textiles, the craftsmanship…

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  1. how did you know that this is what you want to do? I just love the process of designing a collection, to see your sketches come to life, it excites me, it scares me, it makes me feel something that nothing else does. That’s how I know that this is what I am meant to do.
  1. What is the best thing about being a designer? You get to create something and put it our into the world for people to desire and enjoy.

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  1. What is designing to you? Expression, Self-representation
  1. How do you bring your inspiration into reality ? It’s a long process from start to finish, when you see the finished product on the runway, you don’t see the months behind it, the development, the challenges, the triumphs. Working on your collection can be an emotional and very personal experience, but in the end, when you see your designs finally realized, it’s the best feeling in the world.

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  1. How do you describe your creativity, style, and how is it different or not from yourself? My style is quiet but rich in detail; I love textures and dimensions and work done by hand.
  1. What makes you unique from other designers? My aesthetic, the way I see colors and combinations, and the quality and finishing of my garments inside-out.

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  1. What is a timeless piece to you? I think anything can be timeless depending on your style. Especially nowadays, Styles from the past are always coming back into fashion, making what would have been a trendy piece back then, into a timeless piece now. Its all relative. To me, any garment that is made and finished well can be timeless.
  1. Do you have any special goals with your clothes ? (inspire anyone, win from other designers, be famous) My goal is to grow enough to have my own atelier and my own team working with me to continuously make collections and keep up with the fashion world.
  1. What do you do in your free time? I sketch, I research, I make mood boards constantly with inspiring images I find online.

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  1. Who is your muse? I don’t have a specific muse.
  1. Who do you design for and why? My target market is aimed at but not limited to women 20 years and up. My clients appreciate quiet elegance, femininity and quality.

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  1. There is a trend right now using organic fabric, is this something that you see in your upcoming designs? I have not considered it so far, its something that could be interesting to explore in the future.
  1. What do you think about production in China? Its not for me, I prefer the craftsmanship and handiwork done in India. My garments are handmade in small batches.
  1. What do you think of next or current season? I am always thinking of the next season, fashion always works 1 season in advance.
  1. What do you hope to have achieved in the industry, 10 years from now? A strong, developed, recognizable and unique brand image. I hope to branch out into accessories and jewelry in the future as well, to compliment my collections.
  1. what inspire or motivates you to keep persevering in this cut throat industry? I love to design, and with a source of inspiration as rich and multi-faceted as India, It’s hard to not constantly be inspired and excited to design the next big thing.

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  1. What is the trend for 2017? I think we are moving more towards minimalism, relaxed luxury. I love this aesthetic.
  1. What is your message for all young aspiring designers in the competitive business of fashion? Try and focus your vision and aesthetic from the very beginning. With that, you can then develop a strong and long lasting brand. People will come to you for your unique vision, and that’s how you can stand out in the industry.

For more info on Selina’s Collection :

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Fashion without Breaking the Bank!

shopping-whats-onAll women enjoy being fashionable and this is a fact, even women who only wear shirts and jeans express their inner FASHIONISTA in their own style, however, many people think that being fashionable means having to be a label-lover and spend thousands and thousands of dollars. True in some instances, but this cannot stop fashion lovers everywhere from being trendy while spending less than the cost of runway fashion.

The key: be fashionable without breaking the bank

  • buying classic pieces
  • mixing and matching outfits
  • bargain stores
  • distinguishing if a buy is a splurge or a steal
  • Sales Shopping

Here are the tips for you to exude casual elegance even on a day-to-day basis while still keeping an ample amount in your savings.

Buy Classic Pieces

One way of saving money is by investing on classic pieces. This may range from tops, pants, shoes and bags.

Cardigans: classic pieces that has always been used throughout the seasons.

Blouses/Shirts/Tops: can be used under so many jackets and sweaters that can change looks and moods.

Dresses: little black dress since it can practically go with anything and can be worn on any occasion.

Pants: Invest in a good pair of black pants since you can pair it up with so many tops.

Bags: invest in bags that have good quality like leather or suede, also opt for a classic design in a color that goes with many outfits like black, brown, grey, taupe or navy.

Avoid investing on items designed to go in and out of season.

Mix and Match

The trick is to know how to mix and match your pieces.

One pair of pants can make at least 10 outfits.

One black, white, brown or grey top can be included with so many outfits, remember you can never go wrong with neutral colors, the reason being is all your apparel can be enhanced with

Chunky/elegant accessories or match it up with heels, wedges or flats and the ultimate handbag to complete your ensemble thus effortlessly giving yourself a winning look!

Splurge or Steal

Being able to categorize items fashion items is a great plus, enabling you to understand the difference between a splurge or a steal; this skill may take time for you to master but with a bit of window shopping experience you will soon be able to identify which items to purchase at high-end, middle class and low-end boutiques.

Once you master the understanding of your materials and know where to find the same quality at a more economical price tag, then you are a certified bargain master until then you remain a splurge master. Use your bargain master power to create your outfits just like how the runway presents them but without burning a hole in your pocket.

Find Those Bargain Stores

We all have that favourite boutique, the one whose style and cut we have grown accustomed to, however, it is healthy to experiment with other stores since our style is ever evolving as we move through the different phases in our lives. Explore and find stores that cater to your fashion personality at competitive prices.

Sales Shopping

For your ease I have shared a link worth reading

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/shopping-smart-at-the-sales-9938851.html

 

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Maintaining our own traditions while living as expats!

“A nations culture resides and the hearts and soul of its people” Mahatma Ghandi

Part of the excitement of living overseas is the discovery of a new culture and joining in the celebration of the local holidays and traditions of our adopted country, but there are so many reasons why maintaining our own cultural traditions remain just as important.

Traditional celebrations such as  weddings, religious holidays, a national observance, are some of the key elements of all cultures which form part of our cultural identity.  

Staying Connected

 

Celebrating traditions helps us to stay grounded in our own culture while adapting to a new one. This is particularly important when going through some of the phases that may affect us in the first months in our adopted country; be it culture shock , trials whilst settling in our new job, finding appropriate housing or navigating through the usual bureaucratic hoops; connecting and celebrating one of your traditional holidays can brighten up our mood for weeks as we become absorbed in preparations for the event and the excitement of the day itself and helps us to connect with fellow compatriots who can eventually form part of our support group. Staying connected with your countrymen, serves as a constant reminder of your background, ethnicity, religious and social behavior. Coming from a multilingual and multicultural background, my regret is not having taught my children the different languages I was exposed to.

Regular get-together’s allows for many new friendships to flourish and memories that will last a lifetime.

 

Giving our 3rd Culture Kids Some Roots

 

“A people without the knowledge of their past, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”

Reminders of our traditions is perhaps most important for the 3rd culture kids, it helps them to keep firmly rooted to our own culture at the same time learning experiences which might not otherwise occur.

 

Unique Opportunities

 

So next time you see one of our traditional holidays approaching on the calendar, start planning. Invite your friends, involve the kids, and create lasting memories.

Share our Culture

Traditional celebrations are also an excellent opportunity for intercultural exchange and understanding, kids and adults learn about other cultures through these gatherings.

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Being part of the global village and  diverse society is great to broaden your horizons, however  understanding and embracing your heritage, your roots and ancestry are important elements that help shape our future…

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