Atthur Fattah on Leading Darden’s Middle East and Islamic Student Association
Atthur Fattah (Class of 2017) hails from Jakarta, Indonesia where he completed his undergraduate work in Industrial Engineering at Gadjah Mada University. Atthur first heard about Darden through his colleague while he was working in Bank Mandiri, a commercial bank in Indonesia, and decided to come because of the case study method, the welcoming and open community, and strong alumni network. As the President of Darden’s Middle East and Islamic Student Association (MEISA), Atthur works with all Darden student organizations to enrich Darden community’s experience in cultural diversity and global business.
- What is MEISA’s main objective at Darden?
MEISA’s main objective is to promote awareness and understanding about Middle Eastern and Islamic culture, particularly related to doing business with people from or in those communities.
- Can you share a little bit about this young club’s history?
In 2014, then second-year student Catherine Manfre, co-Chair of the Diversity Student Advisory Group felt there was a need for an affinity club at Darden for people from Middle Eastern and Islamic backgrounds. She got together with then first year students Zeeshan Hafeez, Saad Qureshi and Ofer Baratz to organize MEISA with a goal of promoting the culture and providing support for students. In 2014, they organized an Eid Cold Call as the first event. After much debate, the SY Presidents group approved MEISA’s provisional status to be a new club for the 2014-2015 year. In their first official year as a club, MEISA helped sponsor a number of events and activities on campus on top of the Cold Call including a panel on Race Relations after Ferguson, a series of Dialogues on Diversity, A First Coffee, a winning table at the International Food Festival, and received sponsorship from Microsoft for a Sales Workshop in D.C. All events were open to all Darden students. As they closed their first successful year, the original officers turned the club over to new leadership along with Karim Ginena, a PhD student, who has advised the club every year since its founding. Together, the new leadership team started the initiative to designate a multi-faith prayer space, which is now on the second floor of the library.
- Tell us about some of MEISA’s upcoming events.
Charlottesville Mosque Open House
MEISA has coordinated with the local mosque in Charlottesville to host a free open house event on September 24, 2016. The Open House is an opportunity to welcome members of the Darden and Charlottesville community, show our three-level mosque, share knowledge about Islam and Muslims, and answer questions.
MEISA, together with Darden Christian Fellowship (DCF), Darden Jewish Student Association (DJSA), and Darden Latter-Day Saint Student Association (LDSSA) are planning to participate in Diversity Week, which will occur in early October. Our participation will be in the form of a discussion panel or roundtables which are open to anyone interested in further discussion in religious inclusion in diversity.
Collaborating with Darden Executive Education and Global Business and Culture Club (formerly International Business Society), MEISA is planning to invite a CEO of a large corporation who is also an expatriate to share his professional journey and experiences. This event is expected to be towards the end of October 2016.
- What is your vision for MEISA’s growth and impact in the years to come?
I would like to see MEISA not only function as a community, but also to help students who are interested in recruiting in the Middle East. This might be in collaboration with the Career Development Center to invite more companies to recruit Darden students to their Middle East office or a job trek to Middle East.
I have also a vision that MEISA is not only for students, but also for faculty and staff who are interested in knowing more about the region and its culture and Islam. Academically, I think it would be great for MEISA to help write a case related to doing business in Middle East. Finally, we would like to continue working together with other Darden student organizations to enrich Darden community’s global experience.