Organizers, judges, and past competitors and their families attended the EPC 10-year celebration at Dar Al-Hijrah. Photo by Shefa Ahsan.
Ten years have passed since the Essay Panel Contest and debate competition launched with about twenty competitors reading their essays and speeches inside of a small masjid in Maryland.
Since then, the annual Essay competition has grown to spectacular heights, with more than 100 competitors each year. On the evening of May 12, 2012, families from far and wide gathered together to appreciate the achievements of this organization, and how much it has grown over the years.
The Essay Panel Competition (EPC) is sponsored by the non-profit Mafiq Foundation and is dedicated to helping make the youth of today into the leaders of tomorrow. The competition has participants from elementary school all the way to high school. Participants submit essays in a preliminary round on topics assigned by EPC related to American Muslim life and views. Judges scores the essays and then the finalists are invited to present their topics in the final round. In the debate competition, teams from around the region face off in a parliamentary format, where quick thinking and logic are on display from talented participants.
The EPC celebration program, held at Dar Al-Hijrah in Falls Church, Virginia, included several presentations and even some speeches from EPC’s youngest competitors. Faraz Ahsan, Mansoor Cheyo, Adib Ahmed and Tahmid Hussein, presented a mock debate using a topic chosen by the audience. Before the dinner, Ahsan and Cheyo also instructed a debate workshop for EPC’s debate participants.
“It was great training for public speaking,” said Cheyo, when asked how he liked the dinner and participating in the presentation of the mock debate.
“I enjoyed the fact that I saw Muslim youth evolving into promising leaders of tomorrow,” said Camilla Obasiolu, another competitor who attended.
High school students Shefa Ahsan, Aymon Malik, Sumaiyah Khan, Danya Chowdhury and Misba Samiya put the celebration event together along with help from lead EPC organizer Mostafiz Chowdhury.
“There’s nothing better than seeing an event you plan with your best friends come to life,” said Aymon Malik.
A smiling Aziza Salako, an attendee of the dinner, agreed. “It was nice to see the EPC community coming together, and I loved the event because it was organized by dedicated youth who happen to be my friends,” she said.
The dinner was catered by Ravi Kabob, and there was plenty to go around to all the attendees. Many people who came brought their families and friends, much to the excitement of the organizers and participants.
And there was plenty of food for thought as well. The organizers of the EPC competitions spoke a few words about EPC, their happiness at its success and their gratefulness for all the support from the community. Judges and organizers were awarded gifts from the organizers.
“The food was great, and getting people to know about EPC was great, because it’s an awesome thing and a lot of people don’t know about [EPC],” said Faraz Ahsan, a past EPC winner.