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By: Shayma Amour/Arab America Contributing Writer
The month of April has been recognized as National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM). This occasion celebrates and recognizes the Arab American rich heritage and culture, and honors the numerous contributions of Arab Americans to American society.
It has become a primary and fundamental duty for Arab Americans to educate the American society of the real rich Arab culture and use the information to embrace and empower the next generation of Arab American trailblazers amidst a time where hate crimes, stereotypes, Islamophobia, bigotry, and misunderstanding towards the Arab Americans and the Arabs, in general, have increased significantly.
Therefore, many cultural institutions, municipalities, public servants and school districts across the country get engaged in special events that recognize and celebrate this occasion.
One of those entities is Arab America (www.arabamerica.com), which is an organization dedicated to promoting Arab American identity and heritage. It has formed a national advisory committee of over seventy Arab Americans from over twenty states to approach state legislatures, city councils, school board members and other public officials to issue NAAHM proclamations and adopt the Arab American educator curriculum kit, which is currently being disseminated to school districts across the nation as part of the month-long celebration.
It’s not too late to choose an activity to boost, embrace, and celebrate the NAAHM:
1. Treat non-Arab friends/educators to a coffee shop or an Arab bakery and talk about the fun time we have as Arab Americans.
2. Invite non-Arab friends to your home or a party room for our food, music, dance, and/or a discussion about Arab American issues
3. Offer to do something at a library, a school, a non-Arab American organization or any other educational entity. For example a reading of Arabic poetry or proverbs or stories or a presentation of culture.
4. Ask Arabic language teachers and/or professors in universities and schools to design a poster for Arab American Heritage Month and to ask their students to write an article about Arab American heritage and culture.
5. Present in the school’s weekly notes or on the PA a bit of info about the Arab World.
6. Design a “taste of the Arab cuisine”. Get a Middle Eastern/ Arab restaurant to contribute the food.
7. Get a sponsor to pay for a Dabke group to perform for students during their lunch break or at the auditorium.
8. Choose one day when all Arab Americans in schools wear their Thobe or any ethnic dress.
Finally, Arab America will be holding an exciting event on April 30th to commemorate National Arab American Heritage Month in the nation’s capital, Washington DC. The event will feature an exposé of Arab culture, presenting authentic Arab cuisine (including a falafel bar), live Arab music, dabke dance, visual arts, traditional fashions. Several congressional representatives have confirmed attendance for the event.