What Was a Trevor Browne Mexican-American Student, Doing in Iowa September 18, Talking About a Famous Muslim Hero

Posted by Community Relations on 9/24/2015

What was a Trevor Browne Mexican-American student, doing in Iowa September 18, talking about a famous Muslim hero? Junior Jonathan Carrillo Lopez travelled to Elkader, Iowa to speak to elementary school students, September 18, at the invitation of the Abdelkader Education Project. The sixth annual forum provides a cultural exchange for the community inspired by the 19th century Algerian leader for whom the town was named.
Encouraged by his world history teacher Will Reimers, Lopez entered an essay contest after reading the book, Commander of the Faithful: the life and times of Emir Abd el-Kader by John W. Kiser. His essay, about why the Emir remains important today, placed second in the high school category and he was invited to attend the forum.
Lopez asked the students to name some of their favorite superheroes, and then told the students that Abd el-Kader was a hero on par with Superman.
“He was brave,” Lopez said. “He fought for people. And he protected his people.”
Lopez is not Muslim but he is fascinated by history, religion and philosophy. He recently trekked to Israel on a cultural exchange program.
He was accompanied to Iowa by school librarian and mentor Sylvia Cox. According to Cox, Lopez started seventh grade with virtually no English in the ESL program and tested out after five months. He has been soaring ever since. She told the Des Moines Register that she rates “Jonathan as one of the best two students she’s taught in her 30-year-career. He’s not a sponge. He’s a vacuum cleaner.”
The director of the Abdelkader Education Project said, regarding Lopez’ presentations: “I've heard rave reviews from educators who were with us Friday.”