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Arabic Club celebrates Middle Eastern culture

Carolina Wilson | Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Arabic Club hosted its sixth annual Arabic Culture Night last Friday, celebrating the culture with the theme “East meets West.”
Club president Maria Rodriguez said the event was multi-leveled.

“[The Arabic Culture Night] involved collaboration between the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures, the Arabic [program in the Classics department] and the Arabic Club,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of hard work was put into it, seen in the hours of rehearsals of over 40 students and teachers as they wrote, choreographed and directed the various acts in the program.”  

Rodriguez, a senior, said this year’s celebration was unique in its installment of a theme intended to demonstrate the dynamics of Eastern and Western relationships.

 “With all the commotion occurring in the Middle East, our show tried to showcase the similarities between American and Middle Eastern culture and emphasized how we all enjoy similar things,” Rodriguez said.

Arabic professor Ghada Bualuan, the club’s adviser, said the unifying goal of the celebration is echoed in the mission of the club as a whole.

“One of the club’s goals is to celebrate Arabic culture, and cultural expressions are among the most wonderful and precious treasures of mankind,” Bualuan said. “The more we celebrate other cultures, the more dimension and depth we add to our own and the more we appreciate beauty and love and we understand pain and suffering. Also, the club strives to bring Notre Dame students closer to the South Bend Arab community.”

Junior Nancy Joyce, vice president of the Arabic Club and student body vice president, said her involvement in the club has enhanced her experience as an Arabic major.

“It has made my classroom experience so much more enriching because I have been able to take new cultural knowledge from the club’s activities back to the classroom,” Joyce said. “Combining language and cultural learning both inside and outside of the classroom has made my experience as an Arabic major at Notre Dame a very positive one.”

In addition to impacting the students on campus, Bualuan said club members are involved in several civic engagement opportunities in the surrounding South Bend Arab community.

“[Club volunteers] try to help … these Arabic-speaking refugees, who are less fortunate and under-represented and very often struggle to lead a dignified life here,” Bualuan said. “The war refugees in South Bend are facing now a battle of a different form ⎯ assimilating into mainstream America.

“The challenges range from unemployment to language barriers to prejudice and to serious psychological wounds resulting from war and diaspora.”

Rodriguez said the Arabic Club aims to impact the campus and community arenas by advocating a true understanding of Arabic culture.

“There are many stereotypes in regards to the Middle East, and the Arabic Club hopes to help people eliminate those,” she said. “The club is not only a place where students can help improve their Arabic and understand the culture, but a chance for the larger [Notre Dame] community to work towards understanding and peace.”

Contact Carolina Wilson at cwilso16@nd.edu