Event brings VHS students together to sample Arabic foods while learning about the culture
On a frigid, dark Wednesday afternoon at 4:00pm, several Valparaiso High School students gathered in the school cafeteria to have the opportunity to taste delicious and unique Arabic food.
VHS’s Muslim Students Association, or MSA, held their Annual MSA Fast-a-thon on December 11th. During this day, students wake up before sunrise and eat as much as they can. From sunrise to sunset, the students fast the whole day with no food or water. This is similar to the practice of fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which leads up to their biggest celebration, Eid al-Fitr, a day in which Muslims break their fast and celebrate by throwing a feast in honor of their God.
“We were really proud of the turnout this year. Seeing all those people there for a reason- most had fasted all day- really made me proud of VHS,” MSA vice president Luma Khabbaz said as she was about to devour her falafel.
Both American and Arab foods were served during the event. However, before the students were allowed to dig in, MSA President Leena Aljobeh kicked off the event with an MSA Q&A. During the first twenty minutes, students had the opportunity to ask MSA members about the religion and different customs associated with it. The MSA Q&A focused on the idea that being Islamic and being Arab are two separate things, contrary to common misconceptions. Students were able to ask questions that ranged from the topics of religion to culture.
“I love the idea of the Fast-a-thon. We don’t have many opportunities to learn about cultures first-hand in class, so it’s really awesome when kids are able to bring their culture to our school and introduce it to others who haven’t experienced such things. I’m learning a lot from this event, and who wouldn’t love the delicious food?” freshman Fast-a-thon participant Malika Saxena told me.
The clocked turned 4:20pm, the students’ cue that they could begin to eat. Foods such as rice and falafel were huge hits among the hungry high school students. This event was one of the many opportunities students at VHS have throughout the year to get a taste of another culture. It was even a big hit with the freshman.
“The food was great, the people were excited to be there, and it was just overall a nice experience!” freshman MSA member Dalia Yehyawi says.
As the event came to a close around 5:00pm, the MSA students thanked everyone for participating in the event. Not only does the MSA sponsor and coordinate this event, but they also host the MSA Interfaith discussion. During the discussion, a variety of VHS students share their beliefs on certain topics that pertain to religion. Throughout the last five years, the MSA has done a fantastic job in spreading knowledge about their religion and culture.