Just days after showing her fall 2015 bridal collection, Reem Acra was back in the spotlight Wednesday night at Bridges of Understanding's annual awards dinner as the event's guest of honor.
Bridges of Understanding, a non-profit organization that aims to bridge the cultural divide between Americans and the Arab world, hosted a dinner in honor of the designer, who hails from Beirut, Lebanon, and CFDA CEO Steven Kolb presented her with a prestigious award.
"It is both an honor and a privilege to be standing here tonight; an honor to be recognized for my participation in our efforts to promote a better world for building bridges between the Americans and the Arab World. It's a privilege to find myself amongst such a group of people who understand the importance of our mission in these troubled times," Acra said at last night's event.
"When I was told that Reem was getting the award and I was asked to give it to her, my immediate reaction was, 'Yes of course.' I'll do anything for Reem. I have a lot of respect for her as a designer, as a woman, as a philanthropist," Kolb told us at Wednesday's dinner.
Through in-school education initiatives, Bridges of Understanding pairs high school students in the U.S. with their peers in the Middle East through a videoconferencing-based curriculum. Through their participation in various video discussions, students in the U.S. are given a glimpse into life in the Middle East and vice versa.
"The goal is just as much to educate American youth about the Arab world as it is for Arab youth to better understand Americans," Bridges of Understanding executive director Faisal Al-Juburi said in a press release.
"Through showcasing student commonalities, the programming helps the next generation to overcome the culture divide, shift perception and grow towards a more empathetic future among nations."
The event also featured a musical performance by Saudi-American singer TamTam, as well as an original piece by Arab-American playwright Heather Raffo, which featured famed Syrian opera singer Lubana AlQuntar. Notable guests in attendance included Cathie Black and Tom Harvey, who co-chaired the event, Dr. Mehmet Oz and his wife Lisa Oz, InStyle's Ariel Foxman, the Today Show's Bobbie Thomas and model Dayle Haddon, among others.
Funds raised from Wednesday's dinner will help Bridges of Understanding expand its educational programs to New York City. In November, a public school in the Bronx will be the first school in the area to host the organization's video conferences.