Opening plenary speaker Naif Al-Mutawa on Tuesday shared with thousands of NAFSA 2011 Annual Conference & Expo participants the life experiences and convictions that led him to develop THE 99, the comic book series that focuses on peace and acceptance featuring superheroes inspired by Islam. Concerned about the media portrayal of his religion and hoping to create positive role models for young people, Al-Mutawa took it upon himself to change people's perception of Islam by creating THE 99 in 2003, when it instantly became a worldwide phenomenon.
Al-Mutawa was named one of the "500 Most Influential Muslims in the World" and praised by President Barack Obama for capturing the imagination of young people. Read a recent post by Al-Mutawa on NAFSA’s blog.
The 2011 Cassandra Pyle Award for Leadership and Collaboration in International Education and Exchange was awarded to Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch, president of the US-China Education Trust (USCET), who has long been a champion of advancing educational ties between the United States and Asia.
Acrobats captivated the audience during the opening reception held Tuesday evening at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
Dozens of people participated in a flash mob, which incorporated a choreographed dance designed to keep the rain away from Vancouver during conference week.