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  • LRES DEI Committee

LRES Community and Culture Corner: April Edition - Celebrating Arab American Heritage Month

LRES bulletin board - Celebrating Arab American Heritage
Celebrating Arab American Heritage

Mrhbaan! (That's welcome in Arabic.) 


April is Arab American Heritage Month. Although some states have celebrated this month at different times of the year since the 1990s, in 2019, Syrian American advocate and author Pierre Subah led efforts to designate April as a national month to reflect on the contributions of Arab Americans and to combat Anti-Arab bias. 


Arab is a cultural and linguistic term. It refers to the people from countries where the Arabic language is spoken. The Arab community consists of 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa: Algeria, Bahrain, the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. See if you can find these flags in the LRES cafeteria or identify them the next time you shop at Our Dekalb Farmer's Market!


Although this is a religiously diverse community, many Arab Americans identify as Muslim. For most of March, some students at LRES honored Ramadan by participating in the children's version of fasting, which includes a half-day fast beginning around age 7 or 8. A wonderful children's book to help understand Ramadan is Lailah's Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story by Reem Faruqi.


After sunset on April 8th or the first glimpse of the crescent moon, Muslims around the world, including many of our Arab American community members, will break their month-long fast for Ramadan with Eid-Al-Fitr. This celebration is a time for wearing new clothes, gathering with loved ones for a special meal, and donating to charity. 


The LRES-DEI bulletin board highlights several children's books and activities that celebrate the beauty and diversity of Arab-American culture. These titles include The Wise Fool- Fables from the Islamic World, which follows Mulla Nasruddin on his adventures and misadventures across the Arab world.


In Salma Makes a Home by Danny Ramadan, the character navigates the emotions and identity of immigrating from Syria to her new country. For girl-power inspiration, consider Muslim Girls Rise by Saira Mir. which tells the stories of 19 powerful Muslim Women changemakers. These stories and activity sheets were curated to extend cultural learning outside of the classroom.


On this board, you will also find many familiar faces of Americans of Arab descent who have made invaluable contributions to our quality of life. Steve Jobs, Rami Malek, and Salma Hayek are but a few.


During this month, take time to reflect on what comes to mind when you think of Arab Americans, consider the integral role that our Arab American community members play in our world, and work to build an inclusive community that promotes healthy self-esteem for all community members and empathy and connection across our differences.


The LRES PTA DEI Committee is committed to making our school a more welcoming and inclusive place for all students, families, and staff. We believe that every child deserves to feel safe, respected, and valued. We acknowledge the sensitivity of cultural work and topics. This is a continuous learning journey for everyone involved, and our aim is not to offend. If you have constructive feedback on our initiatives, please feel free to contact us.  


We hope you join us on this journey to create a more equitable and inclusive school for all.


If you have authentic, engaging, and interactive material relating to upcoming featured culture dates you’d like to share with our committee and the LRES community, please email us at dei@laurelridgeelementary.com.

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