• The Maseeh Hall Cultural Study Break features authentic food and performances from an on-campus cultural group. At the inaugural event this month in the Flowers Dining Room in Maseeh Hall, Francisco R. Vargas Santiago '15 and Jorge Rosario '15 enjoy Arabic desserts.

    Photo: Thomas Gearty

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  • The study break drew international students, as well as students from the United States with family and cultural ties to Arabic countries. Here, from left to right, Amna Magzoub '16 (Sudan), Hiba Chaabi '16 (Syria), Maha Shady '16 (Egypt), Noor Doukmak '14 (Syria), and Lena Abdalla '16 (Sudan).

    Photo: Thomas Gearty

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  • Abdulaziz-Aziz K Alghunaim '15, of Saudi Arabia, pours attendees some Arabian coffee — or, as he called it, 'real coffee.'

    Photo: Thomas Gearty

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  • Stephanos Karavas, a student at Tufts University, put on a performance featuring the oud, a traditional Arabic instrument.

    Photo: Thomas Gearty

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  • Each event will be co-hosted by on-campus cultural organizations. The inaugural event was co-hosted by the Arab Student Organization (ASO). Here, ASO President and graduate student Obaidah Abu Hashem (right) and executive committee member Abdulhamid Haidar '15.

    Photo: Thomas Gearty

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  • Students were very interested in the oud, with many trying their hand at the instrument and asking about its origins and construction after the performance.

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  • ASO member Abdulrahman Alfozan '15; Maseeh Hall GRTs Chris Love, Sarah Moshary, and Veronika Stelmakh; and Abu Hashem.

    Photo: Thomas Gearty

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  • Hana Khalil '13 (left), who is Palestinian, cleared out the tables and chairs to teach attendees — including Maseeh Hall associate housemaster Donielle Buie (right) — the basic steps of the Dabke, an Arab folk dance.

    Photo: Thomas Gearty

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One dorm, a world of culture

Maseeh Hall introduces late night cultural study breaks.


Arab students served up desserts, dancing and music in Maseeh Hall this month at the first in a new bi-weekly series of Maseeh Cultural Study Breaks. In a twist on the ever-popular study break, the series invites an on-campus cultural group to co-host a late-night gathering, featuring authentic food and a brief performance, such as a song or dance.

"This series was founded for the residents of Maseeh to engage a variety of cultures and ideas in a fun, social setting," says Chris Love, one of the dorm's Graduate Resident Tutors (GRTs). "Maseeh is a diverse house, and this new series is a great opportunity for residents to showcase their cultural background to the rest of the dorm and learn more about their neighbors."

For the inaugural study break, Love and fellow GRT and organizer, Sarah Moshary, reached out to students from the Arab Students Organization (ASO) to co-host. The ASO also arranged for snacks including Arabian desserts, dates and coffee, while Love invited a friend to perform using the oud, a traditional Arabic instrument that resembles a lute.

Several dozen students filled the Flowers Dining Room, part of the The Howard Dining Hall on Maseeh's first floor. Most students stayed for the entire event, as well as a post-event oud performance for the students who were interested in staying longer to hear more of the music. "It demonstrates their curiosity and interest in what was taking place beyond the food," Love says.

Maseeh Hall, MIT's largest undergraduate residence, is home to more than 450 undergraduate students, including many from the 115 countries represented across MIT's student body. According to Love, future events will highlight the Association of Puerto Rican Students, the MIT Italian Association, the Asian American Association and the African Students Assocation.

"At the end of the event, some students approached me to discuss co-hosting a future event with their culture group," Love says. "This kind of interest and initiative makes me excited about the future."


Topics: Campus Dining, Diversity, Residential life, Student life, Students

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