My goal at the beginning of the course was a very simple one-to learn more about the Arab World and to gain new perspective. Often from the United States, we only hear one side of the story. Unfortunately, that side is often Islamaphobic and misinformed. I learned a lot about how Arabs have contributed to fields such as science, art, and literature.
One of the most startling things I learned about, and still do not have a full understanding of, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is such a complicated and multi-layered issue. I was especially touched by Carol Zaru’s talk, and how she thought that her life was the normal, until she came to America. I cannot imagine being unable to do something as simple as plan a date on a calendar because you do not know what restrictions or curfews they are going to put in place, and for how long.
My absolute favorite part of the course was going to the mosque. It was so peaceful and calm there, it felt so serene and I did not want to leave. The director of the mosque was very nice and informed. I also loved seeing the children from the Jewish Day School asking all of their questions. They were very insightful and had deep questions. I also liked learning bits of Arabic and how calligraphy can work with verses of the Quran.
If there was one thing I wish we could have had but did not, it would be the end of the year hafla party. I was looking forward to trying some different foods and learning about a different culture in a relaxed environment. I loved how our FYS last year had a gathering as well as the FYS that I Peer Mentored for this fall, and it helped us grow together as a class, and would have been a good relaxing moment before finals stress hits. I was unfortunately unable to attend the Taste of Arabia dinner, which was the replacement event, because I was in a show, and was disappointed that I missed out on a fun cultural experience. I would have loved to attend a hafla party and was very dissapointed that we were not able have that experience. Having a chance to eat homemade food and get away from the campus for a few hours was something that was much needed and would have enjoyed by everyone.