The Opening Ceremony was held on May 18th and was attended by various instructors as well as IIIT staff along with the students. Dr. Ermin Sinanović, Director of Research and Academic Programs, opened the session by welcoming the students. Dr. Abubaker al-Shingieti, Executive Director, addressed the students and explained the conceptual origins of the SSP, a residential program which enables students to intensively delve into Islamic studies while at the same time creating a network among their peers and IIIT.
The students then began their introductions, shining light on their backgrounds and factors that attracted them to the SSP. Not only do these students come from myriad universities such as University of Michigan, Indiana University, Harvard University, Duke University, Columbia University, McGill University, among others, they also hail from diverse countries, including Iran, Bangladesh, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Trinidad and Tobago, and, of course, the United States.
Dr. Yaqub Mirza, President and CEO of Sterling Management Group, Prof. John Voll, Professor Emeritus at Georgetown University, and Dr. Jonathan Brown of Georgetown University, were also present and spoke to the students about their expectations as teachers. The students will also be taught by Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina, IIIT Chair at George Mason University, and Dr. Jasser Auda, Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the Center of Islamic Legislation and Ethics, Qatar Foundation.
At the end of the Opening Ceremony, Dr. Ermin announced that outstanding performers will be awarded fellowship grants for the upcoming academic year. The students then took a tour of the IIIT office, classrooms, and libraries, and had lunch together with their instructors and IIIT staff.
After Dhuhr prayers, the students eagerly filed into their very first class, Muslim History and Civilization, with Prof. John Voll, and officially began their rigorous academic regimen.