Mason celebrates Asian students: ODPS to host Asian Pacific Heritage Month events

by   Posted on April 19th, 2010 in Uncategorized  and tagged

By Matthew Harrison, Broadside Correspondent

George Mason University’s Office of Diversity Programs and Services (ODPS) is hosting events on campus for the annual Asian Pacific Heritage Month (APAHM) throughout April and May.

Normally, Asian Pacific Heritage Month kicks off on May 1, but because of finals, Mason moved the events back to accommodate its students.

ODPS has hosted several events starting on April 1, where students performed open mic comedy, read poems, danced and sang about Asian heritage.

“A shared history, culture and achievements can help students connect to build a stronger community,” said Dr. Shaoxian Yu, associate director for ODPS.

The events offer students of Asian heritage, and non-Asian heritage, a unique opportunity to be exposed to different cultural backgrounds, customs and knowledge of the Asian culture.

“At George Mason University, our hallmark is diversity, and these events offer students the bigger picture of Asian heritage,” said Yu.

Asian Pacific Heritage Month will host a festival on Friday, May 7 from 7 to 10 p.m. located at the Center for the Art’s Concert Hall. This event will showcase a diversity of music and Asian American art.

Past APAHM events, such as Filipino Culture Night, had over 100 students in attendance. Many of the students learned about Filipino culture and certain issues some might face when first coming to America.

“These events, like every event, are important because [they] embrace the diversity of George Mason,” said Yu.

Other events going on this week include an Asian Pacific American Student Game Room Social on Thursday, April 22, located at SUB I in the Game Room from 6 to 9 p.m., and an APAHM conference Saturday, May 1 from noon to 5 p.m. located in Enterprise Hall.

“The more you learn the better you are equipped when working with people from different cultures,” said Yu about the importance of diversity.

“The events are trying to inform faculty and students about Asian Pacific American heritage through interaction and discussions,” said Yu.

Events like the APA Senior Banquet on Saturday, May 8 from 7 to 10 p.m., honor the academic achievements of the graduating senior class students.

Students are offered dinner at the event and will be entertained with Asian cultural performances.

According to the APAHM official website, Asian Pacific Americans currently account for 4 percent of the United States’ population.

The ever-growing change in size and ethnic composition is a testament to Asian Pacific Americans’ cultural importance in the United States.

Mason prides itself on the diversity of its students and the importance of understanding the cultures they come from. The APAHM events try to educate the public on Asian heritage and its importance in students’ everyday life.

For more information on Asian Pacific Heritage Month, please visit

Cherry blossoms in full bloom: National Cherry Blossom Festival wraps up festivities after succesful two-week run in capital

by   Posted on April 19th, 2010 in Uncategorized  and tagged

By Genevieve Timpone, Broadside Correspondent

The National Cherry Blossom Festival wrapped up festivities on Sunday, April 11 after a two-week run.

According to the official National Cherry Blossom Festival website, each year Washington, D.C. holds the festival in order to commemorate the date of March 27, 1912, when a gift of 3,000 ornamental cherry trees was given to the city by Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki. In 1915, the United States responded in kind with a gift of dogwoods to the people of Japan. The purpose of these gifts was to establish greater kinship between the two countries. The festival has been held every year since, with a suspension only during World War II. Today there are 3,750 cherry trees, most of which are of the Yoshino species, the most popular variety in Japan.

This year, peak bloom occurred on March 31, close to the expected peak bloom date of April 1. The average bloom date is April 4, but unseasonably warm or cold weather conditions make it difficult to predict, with peak blooms sometimes occurring as early as March 15 (which was the case in 1990), or as late as April 18 (which happened in 1958).

National Park Service Agency horticulturalist Rob Defeo noted in The Washington Times that 2010 was the 10th year in a row that the trees were in bloom during the festival.

The Cherry Blossom Festival holds a host of events throughout the two weeks it runs, including a fireworks festival, a 10-mile run and the Lantern Lighting Ceremony. But the event that consistently draws the largest crowd is the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival.

The 50th Sakura Matsuri Street Festival was held on Saturday, April 10 this year, and covered six square blocks of downtown D.C. It is the largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture in the United States. The event opens with a parade along Constitution Avenue and ends with the lively festival that features performances, vendors, beer and sake gardens and food stands.

Douglas Messier, a senior biology student at George Mason University said, “I have been going to the street festival most years since I was back in high school. The trees are beautiful, and the events are entertaining, but it’s really the food-tasting that brings me here.”

The Washington Post quoted Diana Mayhew, president of the festival, as saying that the fireworks doubled attendance along the southwest waterfront and Metro experienced its second-highest day of ridership, behind only the Obama inauguration.

Possible arson: Housing cart catches fire

by   Posted on April 19th, 2010 in Uncategorized  and tagged ,

By Yasmin Tadjdeh & Ethan Vaughan, News & Asst. News Editors

Early Thursday morning a Cushman brand Housing cart caught on fire near Dominion Hall, causing approximately $7,000 in damages, said a police official.

At 4:23 a.m. last Thursday, the George Mason University Police Department was informed of a fire near Dominion. However, by the time the GMUPD and the City of Fairfax Fire Department arrived, the fire had been extinguished by Securitas officers, said Assistant Chief of the GMU Police George Ginovsky.

“Security officers from Securitas were on the scene and extinguishing the fire with fire extinguishers,” said Ginovsky. “The speculation from the [City of Fairfax] Fire Department is that someone threw a lit cigarette on the seat. It could be an accident, but we’re treating it as an arson.”

According to Ginovsky, security officers on scene were unable to obtain any security footage or witnesses, making it unlikely that the case will be solved.

If anyone has any information regarding this incident, please contact the GMUPD at (703) 993-2810 on their non-emergency line, or at (703) 993-4111 on their crime-solvers anonymous tip hotline.

Condom heist in SUB I: Second theft baffles officials, police investigate

by   Posted on April 19th, 2010 in Uncategorized  and tagged

By Ethan Vaughan, Asst. News Editor

Employees at the Office of Alcohol, Drugs and Health Education (OADHE) were stumped last week when, for the second time this school year, unidentified thieves stole hundreds of condoms and other contraceptives from the clinic.

“I have no idea [why this happened],” said Danielle Lapierre, assistant director of the OADHE. “[The condoms] are free.”

The most recent incident happened on Tuesday between 3:30 and 4 p.m., and was apparently part of a coordinated effort.

“The students said they had arranged with me to take the entire supply,” said Lapierre, a generalist who speaks with students about safe sex. “The receptionist told them to double check with me.”

The two young men, described as East Asian and Caucasian, then walked to the back of the clinic and returned to the front, indicating to the official on duty that they had met with Lapierre when in fact no such meeting took place.

“When I came back, the entire basket was gone,” Lapierre said. “But there was this one lonely little lube [bottle] left.”

Lapierre filed a report with the Mason Police, listing the items stolen as condoms, lubricants and dental dams.

While the police department is currently investigating, leads have not been forthcoming.

“They were looking at footage from the cameras in SUB I, but somehow none of them saw a big basket full of condoms leaving,” said Lapierre.

A similar episode took place last fall, when an unidentified student walked into the clinic, dumped the entire box into their backpack, and walked out, taking with them “at least 700 condoms.”

“Come on, 700?” Lapierre questioned. “Nobody needs that many.”

For a time, contraceptives were not available at the front of the clinic, but this became an issue when students started coming to Lapierre’s office at all times of the day, “searching in nooks and crannies for condoms.”

Lapierre theorized that the perpetrators may have been assisted because the condoms were located in a corner of the clinic not readily visible to employees.

“We should probably work on that,” Lapierre said.

In the meantime, OADHE is looking into a condom dispenser from a South African company called Mr. Willy. The machine would allow individuals to take two free condoms at a time.

Lapierre said her top priority was to continue providing free contraceptives to students in an effort to promote safe sex on campus. Lapierre cited a continuing need for sex implements among the student population.

“The box empties really quickly,” she said, “especially around Spring Break and any holidays. And blizzards.”

While she expressed no ill-will toward the guilty parties, she said it was important that they realized the error of their ways.

“You just can’t steal things,” Lapierre explained.

“Right now the condoms are out there in my cookie jar, and I’m going to be more upset if they take [the jar] because I love that thing.”

The battle continues: More than 100 Sodexo employees go on strike, management says workers claims are unfounded

by   Posted on April 19th, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Kevin Loker, C2M Executive Editor

With support from the Service Employees International Union, over 70 food service workers, claiming dissatisfaction with wages, working conditions and treatment from management, marched through George Mason University’s North Plaza Thursday, continuing a recent push to unionize.

Beginning at 6 a.m., the on-campus Sodexo workers went on strike, as part of a ‘national week of action’ against food giant Sodexo, according to Bianca Agustin, a representative for the SEIU. Throughout the day the strike grew to include over 100 employees.

According to Agustin, seven states have filed unfair labor practice charges against Sodexo and their management, who workers claim harass and intimidate them on the job and will not allow them to join a union.

“We want to be able to have a future here,” said Angelica Hernandez, who works at Southside.

According to Hernandez and 27-year Sodexo employee Ana Urias, the workers decided to go on strike to demand better benefits, salaries and working conditions.

“We want to be able to choose to have a union so we can defend our rights,” said Urias, who works at Jazzman’s in the Johnson Center.

Around 1 p.m., the workers began marching to campus, where they gathered at the North Plaza with signs, that read “Sodexo Unfair, Clean up Sodexo.”

A day before the strike, workers marched to the Sodexo offices located under Southside to deliver a petition with about 70 signatures to Sodexo’s Resident District Manager Denise Ammaccapane. The number of names on the petition has since grown to 110, according to Matt Painter, an assistant communications director with SEIU and the Clean Up Sodexo project.

Ammaccapane said she couldn’t accept the petition directly due to corporate policy and says when she asked for a name of somebody to get back to, nobody provided one. According to Ammaccapane, none of the claims workers were making against Sodexo had been previously brought to her attention, though workers claim they had e-mailed Ammaccapane to set up a time to meet.

Employee opinion appears divided. The majority of the 455 on-campus employees have not signed the petition, and many showed up to work or willingly filled in for the empty shifts according to Ammaccapane.

Most dining locations remained open for service Thursday. Jazzman’s, located in the School of Art and is run by one employee, did not open for service. Taco Bell closed early afternoon, and Freshens closed about an hour early.

Employees returned to work on Friday. At the march, Herrera said that the fight would continue.

After the Strike: A Letter, A Flier and Debate
Student Government’s Administrative Subcommittee on Dining Services released a letter to Student Media, University Relations and university administrators late Thursday night condemning the ‘false claims and accusations’ leveled against Sodexo and Mason Dining by the SEIU.

“Some dining employees that have teamed up with the SEIU have accused dining administrators, such as Resident District Manager Denise Ammaccapane, of not listening or responding to their concerns about low wages, a lack of hours, and insufficient benefits,” the letter reads. “In reality, the workers have never contacted dining administrators to seek help on such matters.”

The letter, which was published on Connect2Mason, goes on to speak of harassment not by dining management, as the SEIU has previously claimed, but by employees in favor of unionization to other workers with differing opinions.

“This has made for a hostile work environment,” it reads. In reference to Wednesday’s events in which over 70 protesters marched into dining offices underneath Southside, the letter argues that students have been left feeling uneasy as well, through ‘scare tactics and intimidation’ at the hands of SEIU.

The letter sparked online debate. Editorial staff posted a student response from Robert Gehl, a cultural studies doctoral candidate at the university, who argued against the committee’s representation of the student body.

“Take a deep breath and count the ways in which your lack of Jazzman’s coffee for a few hours on a weekday compares to a family’s lack of health care and benefits,” it reads.

On Friday, a day after the strike, piles of blue fliers with an altered image of the Service Employees International Union’s logo stating ‘SEIU Lies’ appeared in the Johnson Center and across campus.

The flier cites authorship ‘directly’ from Sodexo hourly workers who maintain that the ‘vast majority of Mason Dining Workers do not support the SEIU or their lies about management.’

“We are not managers and we do not officially speak for Sodexo,” it reads, after outlining similar claims as the dining committee’s letter. “We can only speak for ourselves, hourly workers on campus, and we will not be silent in the face of SEIU aggression any longer.”

Broadside Editor-in-Chief Emily Sharrer contributed to this report.

Protest over Confederate History Month: College Dems lead rally

by   Posted on April 19th, 2010 in Uncategorized  and tagged

By Evan Benton, Staff Writer

A small group of protesters joined together Monday at the North Plaza outside the Johnson Center to protest Governor Robert F. McDonnell’s controversial decision to proclaim April “Confederate History Month.”

The protesters, organized by the George Mason University College Democrats, were made up of students, concerned citizens and local politicians eager to speak and listen. Led by Frank Anderson, co-president of the student group, half a dozen people took turns stepping up to the podium and speaking into a loudspeaker.

“I thought I was in 1965 when I read the newspaper the other day and saw ‘Confederate History Month,’” said Herb Smith, one of the vice chairs on the Fairfax Democratic Committee. “How can that not be [seen] as offensive to African Americans? How can that not be offensive to all Americans?”

Curious bystanders were encouraged to pick up one of the many handmade signs, which featured sentiments such as “USA not CSA,” “McDonnell Doesn’t Speak For Me” and “Bob is Backwards,” with the starred red cross of the Confederate Flag filling in the “o” in Bob.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who recently gained attention on campus for his controversial letter regarding nondiscrimination policies at state universities, was also mentioned.

Six people spoke. The rest of the group — four people — held the signs. At the peak of the protest’s reception about 25 people were standing and watching.

“We should not be celebrating the division during the Civil War, but the unification at its ending,” said Joe Gallant, junior government major.

Gov. McDonnell had recently come under fire for leaving out “slavery” as a key component of the Civil War when announcing publicly his decision to make April Confederate History Month. He has since apologized, after his words were condemned by the NAACP, the ACLU and several other groups.

“In his defense he did think that it would bring more tourism because it’s the 150th anniversary of the War’s [beginning],” said Frank Anderson, junior and public administration major. “But why not just call [April] Civil War History Month then?”

Anderson elaborated.

“It’s the state’s hard-right presence. He feels that he owes them something because of his electoral success and this is that something.”

Before dispersing, interested students and bystanders were encouraged to attend the College Democrats daily gathering, every night at 8 p.m., in meeting room D at the JC.

Mason Ecosphere

by   Posted on April 12th, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Environmental Action Group

Last Thursday, advocates for comprehensive climate and energy policies held a film screening and panel discussion at George Mason University. The film was Clean Energy Jobs for a Strong USA, which highlights the benefits of clean energy jobs for American workers. The screening of the film was followed by a discussion with panelists Jason Von-Kundra, from the GMU Environmental Action Group, and Chad Laibly, with Continuum Energy Solutions. The event was sponsored by the Environmental Action Group, Repower America and the Sierra Club.

As the debate in Washington intensifies over how to address our nation’s energy, environmental and economic challenges, the personal stories of workers, veterans, business executives, investors and union members make a compelling argument in favor of meaningful and comprehensive clean energy policies. They also lay a roadmap for how our leaders can work together to implement climate and energy policies this year.

“Virginia has suffered in this economic recession, but today’s screening and discussion, especially with the large turnout, reminds us that hope is on the horizon,” said Chad Laibly, who manages a team that sells and installs solar panels for Continuum Energy Solutions in Northern Virginia. “As a former IT consultant, I am living proof that you can retool yourself and make a living in the renewable energy field. Now is the time to seize on this opportunity so that we can create [well]-paying jobs that will revitalize our local communities.”According to the Pew Environment Group, Virginia already has 1,446 clean energy businesses that have generated 16,907 clean energy jobs in the state. And clean energy and climate policies could create 50,000 new jobs in Virginia, according to a study by the University of California, Berkeley.

The film screened at the event shows how some workers are already transitioning from jobs dependent on fossil fuels to clean energy jobs. Von-Kundra explained that “The film addresses the importance of including workers from fossil fuel industries in the benefits of clean energy jobs. Regions of fossil fuel extraction, such as the coal fields of Appalachia, experience higher poverty rates and remain vulnerable to economic collapse with the abandonment of exhausted mines. That is their sacrifice to supply the nation with cheap electricity. If we destroy those communities by not providing them with clean energy jobs, we are destroying them similar to the mining companies. That is a moral issue that cannot be overlooked. The Blue Green Alliance, a coalition of worker unions and environmental groups, has begun working on this issue, but more can be done, especially on a legislative level.”

Von-Kundra explained some of the ways Mason is involved in the movement for clean energy. A minor in renewable energy at Mason educates students for technical jobs in the clean energy economy. The Environmental Action Group uses citizen lobbying to demand that Congress pass climate and energy legislation this year. The Patriot Green Fund is a proposal that would bring clean energy jobs to campus by funding solar panel installation and other sustainable initiatives.

Thousands of people are voicing their support of clean energy through the website Repower America. Over 58,000 people and businesses have uploaded messages on the Repower Wall supporting clean energy policies, and along with the film, both lay a roadmap for how our leaders should move forward to tackle the biggest challenges we face.

“Acting on clean energy and climate is the most important issue for my generation,” says Bradley Perrow, a graduate student at Mason. “The messages in the film, the videos on the Repower Wall and the discussion tonight send a powerful signal that clean energy jobs are going to play a major role in our nation’s future.”

Participants in today’s film screening and panel discussion support comprehensive climate and energy policies, and believe such policies are a vehicle toward making the promise of clean energy jobs a reality for more Americans.

For more information on the Environmental Action Group, please visit their website at or e-mail them a

Physicians speak to students: Colloquium to teach young people about the joys, hardships of careers in medicine

by   Posted on April 12th, 2010 in Uncategorized  and tagged

By Ethan Vaughan, Asst. News Editor

George Mason University students considering careers in medicine will have a valuable resource to turn to on Tuesday, April 13.

The Alpha Epsilon Delta Colloquium, to be held in the Johnson Center’s Room F tomorrow, will focus on the issues faced by those going into the medical field.

The event will feature a pediatric physician, a resident physician and two medical students, each of whom is slated to speak for 10 minutes before taking questions from the audience.

“They’re going to be talking about why they wanted to go into medicine,” said Dr. Ronald Bashian, who served as a pediatrician for more than 20 years before taking a leave of absence in 2002. “They’re going to be talking about what it means to be in medicine. They’ll talk about the exciting learning moments that taught them about being physicians, but they’ll also talk about the hard times.”

Bashian said the colloquium’s goal was to give prospective medical students a full picture of what the journey to being a doctor entails.

“Medical school is a difficult time,” he noted. “You have to learn this enormous body of knowledge, and [when] applied to the care of sick people, that is a substantial responsibility.”

The event is being sponsored by Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED), the National Pre-Medical Honor Society. Members are pre-medical students who must maintain a GPA of 3.2 or higher.

AED is holding the colloquium for the second year in a row at George Mason, in large measure, it said, because of the high percentage of its members who apply to Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine.

“We wanted to bring VCU residents and medical students to meet our members and provide them with advice that they wouldn’t be able to obtain from faculty advisers or school representatives,” said Benefsha Mohammad, a senior biology major and president of AED.

“What’s more important about this . . . is that the members don’t just hear of the glory of being a doctor. They hear the . . . negative aspects as well.”

Mohammad cited several speakers from 2009’s colloquium, among them a doctor from Inova Fairfax Hospital who spoke candidly about the long hours, pressure and stress that are inherent in the profession.

“Another speaker, a medical student from VCU, spoke of the pain and hurt involved in being rejected by medical schools,” Mohammad recalled. “His reason for sharing this with the students was to demonstrate the kind of determination that this career choice requires.

“This is why [we] hold this [colloquium]. We want our students to understand the harsh yet fascinating realities of medicine.”

Bashian had plenty of praise to offer.

“The American public needs to see a specific example of a disciplined group of students who want to do something important with their lives for society,” he said.

“They need to see that college is not just a place for some of the more unfortunate things you read about.”

Zimride comes to Mason: Ride-sharing tool connects community

by   Posted on April 12th, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Lauren Jost, C2M Contributor

In addition to the new faculty and staff carpool and fuel-efficient parking programs, George Mason University is introducing a new eco-friendly way to commute to campus: ride-sharing.

The program, called Zimride, is similar to a former car-sharing program at Mason called Zipcar — used to provide driving plans and cars for university drivers over 21 years of age.

But what’s the difference?

According to Transportation Coordinator Bob Tennant, Zimride only provides rides, not cars.

“Zimride is simply a ride sharing program where riders log onto the website, post their rides or requests, and Zimride helps match with rides posted,” said Tennant. “This will work for regular commutes as will as single rides — to a concert, or home, wherever home is. Only people with a address can access this unique site, and [they] will be matched with someone from the Mason community.”

In short, what Zimride does is connect drivers who commute to the Fairfax campus from various areas, including but not limited to Falls Church, Manassas Park and Arlington.

Zimride is the largest dedicated carpool technology company in North America with over 300,000 users and has created carpool communities for over 40 of the nation’s most established universities.

From its website, Zimride shares quotes from people who think Zimride is beneficial. “Ride-sharing software is not new, but Zimride is one of the first to capture the imagination of young adults wanting to make a difference and save money along the way,” said Ron Yoder, web communications director at Eastern Kentucky University.

A former Cornell student and current Cornell faculty member, Corey Earle, said, “Zimride is fantastic for students and faculty. It is a simple and intuitive system that is fun to use while at the same time allowing for a higher level of trust.”

Users sign up and input their commuting addresses and departure times into Zimride’s website and can view others commuting from the same area. Historically, some drivers request a weekly commuting fee.

To disperse some people’s concerns of riding in cars with strangers, Zimride users have a chance to connect with one another on the Zimride Facebook group in order to get to know each other before jumping into a commuting relationship.

Some Mason students shared their doubts.

Transfer student Stephanie Webber, a former student at Ohio State where a similar car-sharing program was implemented, says the program was shut down.

“It was not very popular,” said Webber. “All of the housing in Columbus was within walking distance from campus or connected by a shuttle. I never saw any ads.”

“I think there are plenty of transportation methods available already,” said foreign languages major Braden Cohen. “Although, I’ve never been without a car while at Mason.”

According to a Mason press release regarding the implementation of Zipride, “This partnership marks a significant step in improving campus sustainability practices. Furthermore, ridesharing on your daily commute or on longer one-time trips will substantially reduce the costs of travel for our community.”

The service began last week, and can be accessed online at

Where is God?: Interfaith conference hosts dialogue over suffering

by   Posted on April 12th, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Reuben Jones, Broadside Correspondent

On Jan. 12 of this year, close to 200,000 people lost their lives in an earthquake in Haiti. Another 400 people died in February in an earthquake in Chile. And early last week, four people were gunned down in southern Washington, D.C. These examples of human suffering this year provided a backdrop for an on-campus discussion about the existence of a devine being.

Over 100 people showed up last Wednesday to attend the Interfaith Conference called “If God exists, then why is there suffering?” The conference was sponsored by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Student Association (AMSA).

Five speakers spoke on behalf of their religions and then took questions from the audience. The religions represented in the panel were Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Atheism.

The topic of religion can sometimes lead to heated debates and even violence. This conference, however, was a chance for each religion to express their viewpoints while having a lively discussion between panelists and audience members.

Each speaker was given 15 minutes to speak about their religion and to respond to the question of God’s existence in spite of human suffering.

“I think in terms of what makes sense and what doesn’t make sense,” said Ted Penton, a religions teacher at Westfield High School who spoke on behalf of Atheists. “If so much bad stuff happens, where is God?” he asked.

“Religions seem to have done a lot of harm in the world,” Penton added.

Rabbi Bruce Aft, Rabbinic adviser of the George Mason University Community Hillel Board, represented Judaism at the conference.

“We partner together with God to approach suffering in the world,” said Rabbi Aft.

He went on to say that suffering can ultimately be for the good.

When people ask the question of why God lets suffering happen, he believes the question can be countered and then asked of the person who questioned the existence of God.

“It’s our task to try and repair a broken world,” said Rabbi Aft.

The Rev. Denise Giacomozzi May, minister director for United College Ministries, also argued that suffering can be good for us.

A comment made by May sparked some controversy during the Q & A session when audience members questioned one of her beliefs about human beings.

“I don’t think you are born being naturally good,” said May.

Afterwards, May clarified her comment saying, “Humans created good, but through our sinful choices our goodness has been broken. We cannot make ourselves good.”

“God is pursuing us to reach out and love,” said May.

This view was contrary to Penton’s perspective. He believes the idea that humans are not born naturally good is “disturbing.”

The Buddhist view of suffering focused on expectations.

The Rev. Kaz Nakata of the Ekoji Buddhist Temple in Fairfax Station spoke on behalf of Buddhists. “When we expect something, there is suffering,” he said.

He explained that suffering exists within our expectations.

“When people encounter differences, they come out stronger,” said Nakata.

Imam Naseem Mahdi, the national vice president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, spoke about Islam.

Islam, Mahdi says, focuses on peace and submission.

Mahdi explained how there can be man-made suffering. But through the teachings of the Islam, suffering can actually prove the existence of God.

After the event, Saud Iqbal, president of Ahmadiyya Muslim Student Association at Mason, was pleased with the turnout and the success of the conference.

“The goal was to try and have a good dialogue,” said Iqbal. “It was a great conference and a success,” he said.

Every semester the AMSA typically holds conferences that focus on different issues in the Muslim world. The goal is for the conferences to try to get rid of negative anger sometimes directed at Islam and to promote peace in the community.

The AMSA motto is “Love for All, Hatred for None,” and after Wednesday’s successful event, they look to have more conferences in the future that discuss interfaith issues around the world.