CCEI hosts Arab Heritage Month Festival


Photo by Kastenny Flores

Attendees at the Arab Heritage Month festival joined together on the dance floor for Dabke, a cultural dance that is often present in gatherings. “Even though we’re a small group, we don’t have a big population of Arab students on campus. I just wanted to bring some representation and promote our culture and spread awareness,” Angelina Daghlian, organizer of the event, said.

Kastenny Flores, Reporter

Traditional Lebanese food, dancing and trivia about Arab culture was organized during the event to honor Arab American Heritage Month.

California Lutheran University’s Center for Cultural Engagement & Inclusion hosted an Arab American Heritage Month Festival in Kingsmen Park on April 26.

“At my old school and my sister’s school, they never offered events like this. It’s a whole different unique culture. Cal Lutheran has a lot of different cultures, so I think it’s great that the school gives the people a chance to explore it,” event attendee Madison Canty said. 

Angelina Daghlian, organizer of the event, said they found a local place that sold Lebanese food for the event, and dancers were hired as entertainment and to teach the cultural dance. Daghlain said she ordered food such as beef and chicken shawarma, as well as vegetarian and gluten free options to be as inclusive as possible for all the attendees.

“I had in mind good food, entertainment, which is a cultural dance called Dabke. When you think of an Arab festival or a wedding, it’s crazy and that is my goal. I wanted to go crazy,” Daghlian said.

Liban Yakob, an event worker, said this dance is extremely fun, and it can be danced with a small group of friends or family and at any gathering. 

“Our traditional group dance, Dabke, essentially is a dance you can do alone. But usually it’s a group dance, so you would have to hold each other side by side. You move in circles and someone leads it and everyone follows all on the same beat. It is also very feet oriented,” Yakob said.

Daghlian said she wanted to spread awareness about the keffiyeh, which is a scarf that is often worn in the media today to show solidarity with Palestine. 

“It [the keffiyeh] was a way the rebels weren’t able to be distinguished. People in Palestine wear this as a symbol of freedom,” Yakob said.

Yakob said that the event was put on to recognize Arab Americans. She said she believes that there is not enough representation on campus, but Cal Lutheran is beginning to change that.

Daghlian said even though the Arab American population on campus is small, she wanted to promote their culture, spread awareness and bring representation to campus. Daghlian said the event was an appreciation of all Arab cultures and countries, and it was designed to create a safe space for the students to unite and celebrate their culture. She also said it was a great opportunity for the university’s community to learn more about the Middle East and specifically Arab countries. 

“The Arab culture consists of so many different countries and places. It’s just a unique culture and I feel like a lot of people aren’t aware of it, but once you get the exposure, it’s really cool. All the parties, all the culture, all the cool stuff and it’s all beautiful,” Canty said.