This Friday, the Student Association for the Development of Arab Cultural Awareness (SADACA) will be in Hirst Lounge of Wilson Commons between 12 and 3 p.m. SADACA is sponsoring “HAFLA,” the second incarnation of this annual event. The word “Hafla” means “party” in Arabic, and this Hafla will be a celebration of Arab culture aimed at exposing some of its wonders to unaware students. Free Arab dishes of falafel and hummus will be available. Students can see a beautiful exhibit of Middle Eastern fashions, both traditional and contemporary, and SADACA members will even teach students how to write their names in Arabic.

Part of the event will include a presentation of Middle Eastern arts and a slideshow of many contemporary paintings by Arab artists. Middle Eastern music will, of course, be at top volume, and the Sihir Belly Dance Ensemble will perform at 1:30 p.m., followed by Sword and Scarab, a local dance troupe, and then the UR Middle Eastern dance class at 2 p.m. A traditional Arab folk dance called Debkha – a dance of celebrations and weddings will be open for all to jump in, so it’s sure to be fun and very communal.

Perhaps most importantly, information on Middle Eastern and Arab culture will be available. Issues to be covered will include the controversy of the hijab. “It is difficult to fully understand the importance of the hijab in Middle Eastern culture,” SADACA member and senior Meg Murphy said. “The word ‘hijab’ means ‘veil’ in Arabic, and typically consists of a head scarf worn by Muslim women. These scarves may be worn for religious purposes, but are also worn to denote social status and even age in many communities. Also, there are many ways for women to veil themselves – some of these options cover only the hair, but others cover the entire body.

Many students are unfamiliar with the tradition of veiling, and I think it will be very important for students to learn more about the reasons women veil themselves and the ways in which they are able to do so.”

“Books for Baghdad” is also at it again this year, with even greater hopes. People are encouraged to bring textbooks to this Hafla or textbooks can be brought to the Rush Rhees circulation desk. During finals week, SADACA will also be seated at a table in Wilson Commons for donations.

SADACA formed last spring and is committed to spreading information about Arab traditions, literature and general culture. “Last year’s HAFLA was a tremendous success,” SADACA president and senior Amanda Michaud said. “A large number of students, faculty, staff and community members turned out to learn about or share knowledge about Arab culture and we all had a great deal of fun in the process.”

SADACA is excited about this year’s Hafla. “Hafla is a wonderful opportunity for SADACA to showcase all that we do as a club – the group is committed to a beautiful mission of education and dispelling misconceptions,” SADACA Events coordinator and sophomore Devin Opotzner said. “And anyone who wanted to join could take it in any direction; we are looking for a fresh way to approach the issues that dominate the public discourse on international affairs today.”

Ford is a member of the class of 2009.

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