Events scheduled to spotlight the Middle East

April 2, 2018 | Events, UToday, Arts and Letters
By Ashley Diel

The University of Toledo has several events planned the first week of April to unveil different aspects of the Middle East and North Africa to show that behind the turbulent region there is humanity, beauty and art.

“The weeklong events have multiple goals,” said Dr. Gaby Semaan, director of Middle East studies and assistant professor of Arabic. “Overall, the overarching purpose is to raise awareness about positive aspects of the Middle East, which is usually a region that people think of only in terms of war and armed conflicts.”

Listed by date, scheduled events will be:

• Tuesday, April 3 — Breakfast with the Professors, 9:30 to 11 a.m., Memorial Field House Room 2420. Meet with the instructors of the Arabic program for a cup of coffee or tea and a light breakfast. Students will have the chance to discuss various topics such as current events in the Middle East and requirements for a major or minor in Arabic.

• Wednesday, April 4 — Exploring the Region, 5 to 6 p.m., Memorial Field House Room 2420. Students will give mini-lectures about their own experiences discovering the region of the Middle East. Topics will include “My Exploration of Middle East and North Africa: Morocco and Jordan” by Kara Morris, “Arab Again: Rediscovering My Identity” by Jad Itawi, “Unveiling the Middle East: Fact or Fiction” by Kennedy Pierce, and “Building Bridges: Why it Matters?” by Rebekah Stevens.

• Thursday, April 5 — Calligraphy Meets Ceramics and Henna, 5 to 7 p.m., Memorial Field House Room 2420. Participants will learn about calligraphy and ceramics followed by a hands-on workshop, which will be taught by Nada Salem and Saeed Alzaharani. Materials will be provided.

In conjunction with the Department of World Languages and Cultures’ celebration week, there will be the “Taste of the Middle East” event Monday, April 9, at 12:30 p.m. in Memorial Field House Room 2420.

Attendees will have the chance to sample Middle Eastern food from area restaurants, including Oasis Mediterranean Cuisine, Phoenicia, The Beirut Restaurant, Middle East Market, The Oasis, and Almasri Sweets of Dearborn, Mich.

Semaan said these events will help students learn more about the region and show them that it has more to offer than how it is portrayed in the media and the news.

“The events are important because they educate about a much misrepresented region and will bring students to interact with faculty and staff in a very relaxed manner, which eventually will contribute to celebrating diversity on our campus and spread cultural awareness,” Semaan said.

Events for “Unveiling the Middle East and North Africa” are sponsored by the Department of World Languages and Cultures, Middle East Studies, the Arabic Program, the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, Arabesque, and the MENAA Organization.

For more information, contact Semaan at

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