Looking for a good Sunday afternoon activity? Come and join the Student Association for the Development of Arab Cultural Awareness – SADACA – in their celebration of Arab culture at Hafla. Hafla, meaning “party” in Arabic, will be an afternoon filled with Arab food, fashion, music and dancing.

Hafla will exhibit several aspects of Arab culture, both traditional and contemporary. Beginning at 2 p.m. students can sample various common Arab food dishes, including falafel and hummus. A fashion show displaying a variety of Arab styles will begin at 3 p.m. Both traditional and modern fashions will be represented in the show.

“We hope to dispel the stereotypes that a lot of people appear to hold about what people actually wear in the various parts of the Middle East, and show the differences and also the similarities between our culture’s fashion and theirs,” senior and group member Patricia Tehan said.

Another focal point of the event will be a sampling of dance styles from the Middle East. The Sihir Belly Dance Ensemble will perform a routine choreographed by Irina Barahona. Students will also be able to learn the debkah, a traditional Arab folk dance often seen at large celebrations.

Additionally, SADACA will host an expos on the hijab to teach students about the many ways in which the hijab is worn. The hijab is a head covering worn by women usually for religious purposes, but also as a result of cultural influences.

SADACA was formed at the beginning of this semester by senior Alexandra Cornwall. “After living and studying in the Middle East for seven months I wanted to show the people around me what a beautiful culture I had been living in,” Cornwall said. SADACA’s mission is to do exactly what its name says – develop awareness of the Arab culture spanning from religion to language, politics, literature and beyond.

“The purpose of SADACA fits in well with the administration’s recent heightened focus on diversity at The College,” junior and next year’s president of SADACA Amanda Michaud said. “Any club that brings Arab culture to the college community is something from which this university can only benefit.”

SADACA focuses its events on providing an outlet through which students and faculty can learn more about the Arab world, specifically through interactive events.

“Aside from understanding what it is we are trying to do and what we are, it is just as important to understand what it is we are not,” Cornwall said. “We are not religiously or politically affiliated, and do not seek to impose any specific view on anyone. Rather, our main goal is to expose the UR community to a really amazing community of people.”

SADACA has hosted other events, including a discussion on the cartoon controversy over the depiction of the prophet Muhammad, as well as a slide show presentation from students and faculty who have lived in the Middle East. SADACA is also sponsoring the ongoing Books for Baghdad drive, which collects university textbooks to send to the University of Baghdad. Textbooks can be donated in the box at the Rush Rhees Library Circulation desk, or outside the bookstore during spring book buy back.

This Sunday’s Hafla will be an excellent opportunity for students and faculty to participate in a variety of aspects of Arab culture. Join SADACA for Hafla on Sunday, April 23, from 2-5 p.m. in the Hirst Lounge.

Murphy can be reached at mmurphy@campustimes.org.

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