Posted by Joan Hanna on December 20, 2016 in Blog

shadi_classroom.pngAmidst the alarming trend of increased hate crimes and harassment in classrooms across America – Arab Americans are stepping up to help educate students and teachers in an effort to temper the problem. 

Shadi Matar, an AAI alumnus and current member of our National Policy Council, recently presented on Arab and Arab American culture at Woodcrest Christian High School in Riverside, California last week. The presentation was part of the school’s student-led Cultural Diversity Club. Alexandria Frank, a co-founder of the club, said her aim was to create a space for learning and to focus on the rich diversity of cultures in southern California.

Providing spaces for conversation about Arab and Arab American culture is an important response to the uptick of bigotry throughout the country and a way to address some of the fears students might be bringing with them into the classroom. Ms. Frank said, “We started the Cultural Diversity Club at my school with the intention of increasing people's understanding of different cultures so that we can better communicate with and love people of different backgrounds. My co-founder, Desiree, and I have seen the beauty of diverse cultures and we just hope to impart that love of culture to our fellow classmates.” 

Matar spoke to a roomful of high school students about major themes in Arab culture, dispelling Arab stereotypes and clichés, and the history of Arabs in America. “I am very proud of these students for having an interest in Arab culture, being engaged and asking so many questions. I’m very hopeful for how inclusive the next generation of young people will be.”