Upcoming Arab Heritage Week

The original purpose of the Arabic Heritage Week event was far from what it has evolved into. “I just wanted a calligraphy workshop, that’s all,” said Anna Brosious, who has been coordinating the event and will be managing the marketplace, which was a pleasant addition to the original small-scale event they had planned.
The marketplace is on Monday and Tuesday, June 2 and 3, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the E courtyard, in front of the library. It will offer samples of ethnic foods (all being halal), temporary henna tattoos, offerings of Arabic art and an opportunity to have one’s name, quote or message scribed in Arabic.
Ideas to expand the event flowed: “We can do more than calligraphy. We can do an art exhibition. We can do a live concert,” event organizer Orchideh Raisdanai explained. With the support of the community, Student Programs and members of the Arabic language program, the group was able to coordinate a variety of entertaining and educating presentations, workshops and vendors.
Rayanna Acia Kiswani, a member of the Arabic club and participant in event planning said, “We’re going to have different activities for different age groups, whoever’s interested in attending.”
Along with the calligraphy workshop and Arabic marketplace, the week-long event will host a film festival which will feature Arabic films with English subtitles, belly dancing and folk dancing workshops, an Arabic language meet-and-greet, an Arabic and Islamic historical and modern art reception and concerts featuring various well-renowned music and dance artists.
Wesam Alkhani, who is on the AHW planning committee, said of the various artists who will be performing: “The House of Tarab is the one that I’m really interested in. It’s classical Arab orchestra,” he said, or a “musical ensemble, as they call themselves,” Raisdanai chimed in. Tarab is “that state of being in musical heaven,” she explained. “They play traditional Arabic music even though barely [any] of the members are even Arab. It’s interesting to share the culture like that.” The dancers also come from various backgrounds and countries.
And that’s exactly what this events seeks to do: share culture. It will be space where people of different cultural backgrounds can connect with other cultures, breaking down any stigmas that may act as barriers to appreciation. “We want to show people that you don’t have to be Arab to be a part of this culture,” Kiswani said. “Each culture is different, but it’s nothing to be [intimidated by].”
As a global community, “we all should be celebrating each other’s cultures,” Brosious said. She is Caucasian, and she started learning Arabic three years ago as a step towards becoming the respectable diplomat she aspires to be. Alkhani describes himself as “half Syrian-Arab and half redneck.” The coordinators are a diverse group of people, and they hope the event attendees will reflect that diversity as well.