CHARLOTTE YOUNG NEWS EDITOR
On Friday, May 3 at 6:00 p.m. the Commons was transformed into a different place. Decked out with food from the Middle East and bellydancers, the area had been transformed to fit the needs for the evening, Middle East Night. All proceeds went to the International Rescue Committee for Syrian refugees.
Parents, faculty and students swarmed Middle East night. The night included a talk by ASL parent and New York Times columnist Roger Cohen (P’12,’15) about the post Arab Spring movement. Although the evening began with a light atmosphere, it soon changed when members of the club shared poems about the Middle East in a segment called “cousins.” This theme was derived from the Arabic word for Jewish people, which directly translates to the word “cousin” in English.
During “cousins”, tears were shed, especially when Adam Koren (’14), after reading his poem, announced that he would no longer be enlisting in the Israeli army after he graduated from High School. Koren decided to not enlist because of his experiences in the club. Through the club and Middle East Night he was able to see the other side of the conflict and understand it. Koren believed that the attendance on the night also had a direct correlation to the way the school views the current Israeli-Palestine conflict. Koren said, “Over the past four years the club has been getting progressively larger, as has Middle East Night. It just shows that people care about these issues, the conflict. This club and the night showed student initiative and that there can be peace in a situation with conflict.”
Amin Ojjeh (’16), also part of the Middle East Club, shared a poem by Nizar Qabbani, titled “Children Bearing Rocks.” Ojjeh was proud of the night and said he was “happy with the outcome because of the amount of people that showed up, it was way more than I had expected and it seems like we raised a lot of money.” Ojjeh, also reflected that, “After this night, I think of the Jews as my cousins. We are all together as a community at ASL and I think this night really commemorated that.”
Mohammad Alaghband (’13), co-president of the Middle East Club thought this was the best Middle East Night ever, and it was a large accomplishment for the club. Adnan was especially happy with the poems and the messages they sent. Adnan said, “One of the poems that really stood out to me was when Adam Koren said he would not participate in the Israeli army and then straight afterwards Tarek Masri (’13) read an epilogue from a book saying he would not hate.”
REVISED on May 14, 2013 due to incorrect grammatical errors. Also, Mohammad Alaghband was incorrectly identified.