Middle East Day panelists combat stereotypes, share culture


Lily Souza

Middle Eastern panelists shared stories about their culture in an effort to dispel stereotypes and misconceptions during Middle East Day Friday, April 29. 

“Having people that are willing to come and listen to my experiences as an Egyptian made me feel heard, especially considering that I am a minority,” said freshman Aly Tahoun, one of the speakers from the f-block panel.

Jana Amin, an activist in her freshman year of college, spoke during the a-block panel about visiting schools like North to abolish stereotypes and hate against the Middle East.

“My personal mission is about uncovering what I know each girl possesses: her vision and voice.” Amin said, “By visiting schools like Newton North, I hope to inspire more young people to take action in their community and change some of the misconceptions around the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, especially with regards to gender.” 

Rima Hajjaj and Dima Albasha, guest speakers during g-block of Middle East day, presented a video and slides explaining conditions in parts of the Middle East that people don’t see. 

“I also hope people realize that what they see in the news isn’t everything.” said junior Nadim Saouli, a student speaker. “The Middle East is a place of diverse culture, many languages, and it is home for many people,” 

During d-block, Middle Eastern foods were set out for students to try during lunches. Students and staff were able to get a taste and look at foods like mana’eesh, hummus with bread, and apricot candies. 

“I am glad people got to experience the food because that is a staple to our culture,” said Saouli.

The students on the panel during f-block answered questions about their culture and life as Middle Easterners. Many people in the audience or watching from their classrooms had questions to ask the Middle Eastern students. 

“Having the opportunity to even organize an event like this in the first place shows how NNHS is supportive of our voices being heard. Unlike many American schools nationwide, NNHS is definitely unique in letting its students feel heard and it’s one of the reasons why I feel proud being a student here,” Tahoun Said.