Rumi Forum Presented Awards to Celebrate Education and Peace Initiatives by Maryland Officials at Annual Peace and Dialog Awards Ceremony.

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The Rumi Forum presented awards celebrating peace and dialogue initiatives by local Maryland officials. Awards were presented to Maryland Secretary of State John McDonough, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, United Way of Central Maryland President and CEO Mark Furst, Maryland State Board of Education President James DeGraffenreidt Jr., and Montgomery County Chief of Police J. Thomas Manger. The event also highlighted the importance of education and intercultural and interfaith dialog towards building sustainable peace.

Gaithersburg, MD – March 30, 2011 – The Rumi Forum, an international organization promoting interfaith dialog and peace, had their annual Peace and Dialog awards ceremony. The awards and ceremony this year focused on honoring those officials in Maryland who utilized education and interfaith dialog to promote peace.

The recipient of Rumi Forum Peace Award was Secretary of State of Maryland John P. McDonough. The Rumi Forum Maryland recognized Secretary McDonough for his efforts on the award-winning Maryland Sister States Program and the valuable international relations with other countries that promote friendship and better understanding of the parties that eventually leads to a peaceful world.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett was presented with Extraordinary Commitment to Community Services Award. He was unable to attend, and sent his Liaison for Asian and Middle Eastern Community, Lily Qi, to accept the award on his behalf. The Rumi Forum Maryland recognized County Executive Ike Leggett for the service he has done for the community not only as an executive but also as member of different commissions organizations that helped to raise the quality of life of Montgomery County residents.

The recipient of Extraordinary Commitment to Charitable Acts Award was Mr. Mark Furst from United Way of Central Maryland. Mark has volunteered on various nonprofit boards over the years and presently serves on the boards of Baltimore City Head Start and GBC LEADERship, He is also an advisor for Baltimore’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.

The recipient of Extraordinary Commitment to Education Award was the President of The Maryland State Board of Education James DeGraffenreidt Jr. The Rumi Forum Maryland recognized Mr. DeGraffenreidt for his efforts to increase the quality of education in the state of Maryland as well as foreseeing the changes that need to be made in the education system to better prepare the students for the future and the life ahead.

Commitment to Community Service Award was presented to Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger. The Rumi Forum Maryland recognized Montegomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger for his efforts to make Montgomery County a safer and better place for all of its residents.

Turkish dinner was served to the guests, while live Turkish music was being played by a local musician. Videos were also presented highlighting the teachings of the 13th Century Sufi Philosopher/Poet Mawlana Jalaladdin Rumi, the namesake of the Rumi Forum.

Videos also gave an introduction to the Rumi Forum’s current work to build peace around the world through education, interfaith dialog, and the free exchange of ideas. Fethullah Gulen, the founding father of the Rumi Forum, was also quoted in the videos, promoting the Rumi Forum’s ideals for peace and dialog: “Be so tolerant that your bosom becomes wide like the ocean. Become inspired with faith and love of human beings. Let there be no troubled souls to whom you do not offer a hand and about whom you remain unconcerned.”

The Rumi Forum will continue to promote peace by honoring those who work towards promoting education, bringing interfaith groups together in understanding and dialog, and promoting cultural understanding and inclusion.

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