The Ismaili Jamatkhana, Plano hosted an interfaith event, where people of all religions were invited to learn more about the Ismaili Muslim community to bridge the gap with the greater Plano community. 

Three year-old Avra Kuriachan’s fingers skimmed the geometric patterns embedded in the architecture of the Ismaili Jamatkhana, Plano. It’s a building more familiar than foreign to her, even though it’s not the Jamatkhana she normally attends. In her frothy pink dress, she roamed the lobby as if it were a palace, oblivious to the bustle around her. To her, the diversity of faces and backgrounds intermingling in such a setting was nothing short of normal. As it should be. 
The Ismaili Jamatkhana, Plano hosted an interfaith event, where people of all religions were invited to learn more about the Ismaili Muslim community to bridge the gap with the greater Plano community. The event entertained approximately 150 individuals and featured tours, a performance by the Ismaili Muslim Youth Choir, and a visit from Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere. 
"This Jamatkhana in Plano has been designated as a space for creating an energy of camaraderie within the local community,” said Samina Hooda, the Communications Coordinator for the Aga Khan Council for the Central US, “and to have schools and churches and other organizations come in informally and understand who we are.”
Some visitors, like Dallas-native Jennifer Hernandez were anxious before coming, yet left with an appreciation for the building and the people inside it. “It was a little intimidating at first,” said Jennifer, who came with an Ismaili friend. “I didn't know what to do, what to expect, or what to wear, but it all just kind of settled once I was inside. Everybody seems nice, welcoming.”
Nizar Didarali, President of the Aga Khan Council for the Central United States was delighted to find that visitors reciprocated the warmth. “It was an amazing experience as I walked in,” he said. “I was pleasantly surprised that we had so many citizens of Plano who are interested to come and learn about this space.”
In his comments to the audience, Mayor LaRosiliere mentioned the values of diversity and pluralism as key to his second term. Having already come to Plano Jamatkhana in the past, the Mayor remarked that the visit reminded him of coming home. “Often when you walk into spiritual centers, there’s a sense of rigidness and structure, but here it just feels free-flowing,” he said. “There’s a sense of warmth and acceptance I feel when I come here, a sense of belonging immediately.”
Tina Ali Mohammad, Choir Director and Avra’s mother, applied the idea of belonging, to the musical performance by creating a multilingual, multicultural medley filled with phrases of geets in Sanskrit and portions of “Amazing Grace.” While heightened social tensions may lead some to downplay the role their faith, Ali Mohammad said she took this open house as an opportunity to express the pride she feels as an American Muslim. “There was a lot of pressure to conform and kind of downplay our culture and our background. I felt like I wanted to tell everybody –– and especially the Choir –– that it’s OK to be Muslim,” she said.
The Ismaili Jamathana, Plano Kamadia Saheb Saleem Hirani said he sees the Youth Choir as one example of how the youth can help build a more cohesive relationship between Ismaili Muslims and the surrounding communities. “I would love to have our youth bring their classmates. That would be a big success,” he said. “When our youth take over, that’s when this whole thing will change from meeting the mayor to being a part of the community that we live in.”
Visitor and software engineer Medrick Yhap, 52, also advocated the importance of outreach for the prosperity of the community as a whole. “I think we need to do more outreach,” he noted. “If I don’t know about you and you don’t know about me, what do we really have as a community? We don't have a community.” 
According to President Didarali, the community hopes to host similar events at least twice a year to give the Jamat the opportunity to forge connections with our neighbors that continue to grow. 
"Race, color, does not mean everything,” President Didarali said. “We are all humans. We are all here for a common purpose. We hope we can create more friends and become one community.”