Students celebrate Arabic culture

The Arab Student Association will host a mix of cultural, political, educational and social activities to raise student awareness about Arabic culture during April’s Arab Awareness Month.

This is the group’s second year promoting Arab awareness during April. The group decided to continue the new tradition after last year’s success, said Ghada Skaff, co-president of ASA.

There is an entire world (which) no one has accessed information on, (their) politics and culture, Rafid Fadul, the group’s secretary general, said. We expose students to an entire different lifestyle.

The ASA aims to break down negative stereotypes through awareness and serves as a home base for transfer and international students, Skaff said.

ASA members participated in Saturday’s Hands on D.C., a citywide event to clean up local public schools.

This is a way to give back to D.C., Skaff said. They are in need of a lot of people. D.C. gives so much to us . and we like to do it.

Skaff said reaching out to the community can also help eradicate existing negative stereotypes against Arabic culture.

The month’s events began with an Arab-Jewish mixer April 2. The mixer was symbolically a boundary breaker between the two cultures, Fadul said. He said about 40 students from Hillel and the ASA attended the event.

There has been hostility between the groups in the past, but not any more, Skaff said. By getting to know each other, stereotypes go away.

Skaff said the events have drawn a larger mix of cultures than he expected.

What has happened and (what) we encourage is that a few members from ASA bring a couple of friends who are not members, and they bring friends over to meet with other kids, he said.

Past events included Arabic cooking night at the Marvin Center April 3. Chefs from Lebanes Raverna, a Middle-Eastern restaurant in D.C., taught students how to cook different Middle Eastern dishes, including stuffed grape leaves, tabouli – a salad containing parsley, tomatoes wheat and lemon juice – and hummus.

Acclaimed photographer Peter Fryer brought his award-winning slideshow presentation about Palestinian refugees to the Marvin Center April 5.

ASA will serve free food and sheesha, a type of tobacco, at a booth on H Street during Carnivale April 11. The group will also participate in International Night and possibly perform a stick dance at the event, Skaff said. Both events are sponsored by the Program Board’s International Week.

Egyptian Ambassador Nabil Fahmy, whose daughter is a member of ASA, was scheduled to speak at the Marvin Center April 17. The event has been suspended indefinitely because of safety concerns surrounding planned protests against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund next weekend, Skaff said.

Other lectures throughout the month will discuss issues in Iraq, Lebanon and North Africa. The month culminates April 28 with a barbecue at Kahil Girban Memorial Park, named after the respected Lebonese poet.

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