Wheaton’s Middle East Club organized a five-day long Middle East Week from Monday, April 4 to Friday, April 8. Other Wheaton institutions, including the Educational Council, the Intercultural Board, the Speaker Fund, the Senate Fund, the Venture Fund, the Marshall Center for Intercultural Learning, the Political Science Department, the Center for Global Education, the SSSR office, and Chapel Basement, collaborated with Middle East Club to sponsor various events.
On Monday, Emerson served Middle Eastern food, and although the same was planned for Chase, it had to be pushed to Wednesday by Dining Services due to complications. Unfortunately, the meat used in the food was not halal, but Muslim students could partake in the main entrees that included vegetarian options, such as using falafel instead of chicken.
On Tuesday, there was a Read-In in the Balfour Media Center in honor of Asian Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern and South Asian American Heritage Month. Later in the evening, there was a screening of the film Oriented (2015) in Knapton Lecture Hall presented by the Middle East Club, the Feminist Association of Wheaton, Davis and MAD house. Oriented tells the story of three Palestinian friends founding a non-violent group called Qambuta to support gender equality. The documentary screening, spearheaded by Taylor Wilson ‘16, also followed their journey of national and sexual identity.
On Wednesday, the week’s keynote speaker, Rami Khouri, gave a talk in Mary Lyon entitled Tumult, terror, and transformation in the age of the Islamic State: Understanding the Middle East Today. The Holman room was full for the entire one and a half hour lecture, and students and teachers alike stayed later to ask questions and speak with the acclaimed Palestinian journalist.
On Thursday, the Middle East Club hosted local belly dancer Raquel in the Lyon’s Den, who has been to the Den twice before. Raquel also taught a lesson to students in the Balfour Dance Studio earlier in the day.
On Friday, Wheaton alum Roxy Azari ‘10 returned to the Lyon’s Den stage to head a night of spoken word poetry keyed to the Middle Eastern American experience. Azari is an Iranian American poet who founded Wheaton’s iSpeak club in 2007, was awarded a Watson fellowship to work in the Middle East, North Africa, and South-East Asia and got her Masters in Gender, Development and Globalization from the London School of Economics.
Omar Almujahed ’18, president of Middle East Club said that this year’s Middle East week was the most successful one in the club’s history. He also said that the purpose of the week was to raise awareness about the Middle East in all different cultural, political and social aspects.
“The whole week would not have been successful without the endless efforts of the club executive board, especially Taylor Matook ’16 and Muneeba Syed ’17, who worked all day and night to make it happen,” said Almujahed, “Club supervisor Professor Alireza Shomali supported us all the time. We would also love to thank all different Wheaton organizations that sponsored our week and helped us make it real.”
The Middle East Club plans to hold their annual Middle East Week again next year in April.