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SXU Celebrates Arab American Heritage Month


Saint Xavier University (SXU) is proudly celebrating Arab American Heritage Month during the month of April, reflecting on the many contributions Arab Americans have made to the United States and the diverse group of people who make up the nation's Middle Eastern population.   

The community is invited to celebrate with a variety of events and activities throughout the month of April. The Robert and Mary Rita Murphy Stump Library will host a display of books, film and performance art collected in recognition of Arab American Heritage Month, all written and created by authors from the Arab diaspora. Visitors can also check out a beautiful display of Palestinian embroidery curated by Iman Saca, Ph.D., anthropology professor, department chair, and director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program. As noted by Dr. Saca, on December 2021, the art of traditional Palestinian embroidery was inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the United Nations cultural agency (UNESCO). 

On Tuesday, April 26, the SXU community is invited to a Middle Eastern Music Masterclass Performance featuring Maestro Wanees Zarour, an award-winning composer and multi-instrumentalist steeped in Middle Eastern and jazz traditions. The masterclass will take participants inside Middle Eastern music, discussing instruments, forms, microtonality, rhythmic elements and performance practices within a larger cultural framework. The event will take place from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Bishop Quarter Room. 

"Wanees is the director of the Middle East Music Ensemble at the University of Chicago, a 60-piece orchestra that performs Turkish, Arab and Persian music. He transcribes and arranges all the music that is performed by the orchestra, which is not an easy task!" said Saca. 

On Friday, April 27, SXU will host a Ramadan iftar prayer and dinner from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Butler Reception Room. The SXU community will participate in a night of "Diversity for Islam" with a traditional Ramadan iftar (breaking of the fast dinner) prayer and panel discussion featuring Heba Abbasi, educator and advocate of social justice, diversity and inclusion.  The community can also enjoy the beautiful Ramadan display outside of the Butler Reception Room arranged by the Muslim Student Association.  

SXU continues to celebrate Arab Americans every day through our Middle Eastern Studies (MES) program. Saca highlights the value of the MES program as a way for the SXU community to learn about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, both through the minor and also through participating in events and activities organized both on and off campus. 

To learn more about the MES program and minor, MES-related student organizations and other activities, visit SXU's MES page.