BC’s Arabic culture

Attendees gathered for an Arabic culture themed jeopardy game.
Attendees gathered for an Arabic culture themed jeopardy game. Alyssa Brown / The Watchdog

The Arabic Culture Student Association hosted an open house event on Tuesday, Feb. 28 in room C212. The event was attended by Bellevue College staff, students and visitors.

Hakim Chakour giving a talk to get the open house started.
Alyssa Brown / The Watchdog

The open house included a presentation about the BC ACSA, a student program for cultural discussion about the Arabic language and cultures which contributed to societal development, history and importance of Arabic culture in the world. Hakim Chakour, Bellevue College’s Arabic professor, spoke about intersections within Arabic cultures and the role learning different languages plays in connecting groups of people together. Participants played a game of jeopardy featuring  questions about the Arabic language and trivia about the Arab world, including the location of the world’s tallest building and the world’s oldest university.

The event was organized by the BC ACSA leadership team, which includes Fatima Sheikh, Marwan Eady, Hibah Javedd, Sophie Ossorio, Lily Huang, Yasmin Hassan and Ryann Burton. Prior to the event, the leadership team worked together to come up with cultural experience activities to engage new students and build stronger relationships between current members. Planning the event went smoothly and the team enjoyed preparing for it.

The event gave students the opportunity to “broaden their perspective and understanding of the world so they can seek out developing skills during their academic career that will help shape and fulfill their professional goals,” said ACSA Program Chair Orchideh Raisdanai.

“One of our main goals for this event, aside from letting everyone know about ACSA and enjoy Arab food, was to educate people about what an Arab is and the cultures of Arab people,” said ACSA program president Fatima Sheikh. “There are 22 countries in the world that define themselves as Arab countries. Each of these places has their own culture, their own history and functionality which can be appreciated and learned from.”

Food served at the event included traditional items common to the region of the Middle East and North Africa. Foods included hummus, baba ganoush which is an eggplant dip, mashi, which is grape leaves stuffed with rice, lemon juice and spices, tabbouli, a salad made of parsley, cucumber, tomato, and onion, and falafel, a spiced vegetarian meatball made of chickpeas. Served along with the food for dipping was Arabic bread, similar to pita bread. The food was catered by Byblos Deli.

“Byblos Deli is a staple restaurant and grocery store that has been the center of the eastside middle Eeastern community for specialty foods and cultural ingredients to thirty countries that make up the Middle East, North Africa and Near East,” said Raisdanai.

Students interested in the ACSA do not have to be Arab. “As long as they have a will to learn Arabic and or about Arabic culture, they should come,” added Sheikh. Students can join the ACSA coming to Thursday meetings at 2:30 p.m. in Student Programs, room C212, and signing up officially on the ACSA Facebook page. “Students who join the ACSA can expect friendship with students from all around the world, opportunities to meet amazing leaders and artists in our global society, and resources to develop vital skills and knowledge,” said Raisdanai.