Arabic Student Association strives to educate Kent community on Arab culture


Arabic Student Association

McKenzie Jean-Philippe

It’s a Tuesday night and, while other students may be confined to their dorms, members of Kent State’s Arabic Student Association are enjoying snacks and board games.

“We usually have more interactive meetings than just playing Monopoly,” said Aisha Hamdallah, association president and junior pre-human development and family studies major. “We had a meeting that we called ‘Song Night’ and learned the colors in Arabic. We also had a meeting where we watched an Arabic movie with English subtitles so it requires people to use their listening skills.”

The ASA is new to the Kent State community, having been created at the beginning of the Fall 2014 semester.

The group, which has about 15 members, includes a mix of native Arabic speakers, as well as people who have recently begun to learn the language.

“For native Arabic speakers, we want them to be comfortable speaking English with us,” said Nora Hmeidan, vice president and sophomore international relations major. “And we also want to be able to improve our Arabic with them. So (the association) is a place where we can just talk to each other and have a good time, while meeting new friends.”

The organization’s ultimate goal is to help the Kent community better understand Arab culture and the stereotypes that come with it by uniting exchange students and native citizens. During the ASA’s weekly meetings, steps are taken to instill better ideas of the Arab community.

“You can’t blame people for not knowing (about the Arab culture),” Hamdallah said. “With everything going on in the media, it kind of is the Arabic people’s job to say cultural competence is the only way that we’re going to understand each other. It’s a good idea for people to start spreading the word.”

Contact McKenzie Jean-Philippe at [email protected].