By Rawaa Ali

Amid a festive atmosphere gathered a group of businesswomen, artists and intellectuals of the Arab American community, in celebration of International Women’s Day and the Arab American Heritage Month. It was held by the Arab American Women’s Association (NAAWA) at the Sheraton Hotel in Tyson at the Leesburg Pike Hall in Vienna, Virginia, on April 2, 2017.  Some artists participated in presentations, activities and works of art, such as paintings, photographs and handicrafts, as well as a presentation of traditional Arab costumes before the celebration, which was supervised by the President of the Arab American Women’s Association Mrs. Jihan Andoni, and a number of female members and volunteers. This gave the audience a good opportunity to get acquainted and exchange experiences and cultures.

The Mayor of Alexandria, Virginia, Mrs. Allison Silberberg, attended the celebration along with brilliant Arab personalities in the American society, such as human rights lawyer and fellow New America Foundation Ms. Zaha Hassan.  Also in attendance was Community leader Hazami Barmada.  We were honored to talk to them about the importance and role of these celebrations and women’s gatherings in spreading awareness about Arab culture and the involvement of Arab women in American society.

The ceremony began with the opening to the tune of Arabic music and singing. Then the guests gave their speeches to the audience starting with Hazmi Barmada, followed by Jihan Andoni, then Allison Silberberg, finally Zaha Hassan said a closing statement after everyone had already had dinner in a positive interactive atmosphere and artistic presentations. The participants, both men and women, talked about their achievements, ambitions and the importance of communicating and participating in various activities; which would enhance the social cohesion of different women and promote the concept of sharing experiences and developing women themselves.

We had the privilege of talking to the mayor of Alexandria, Allison Silberberg, and when we asked whether this was the first gathering she attended for the Arab American community, she said: “I attended many activities for Arab Americans, but it was the first time I spoke to a gathering of Arab Americans, and the first to me with the Association (NAAWA) and I am honored to be here today.”

I asked the Mayor if she feels that NAAWA can contribute to the local community through such activities and she replied “In fact, I have known NAAWA in the last few days and weeks, and I think that this gathering is part of the diversity and fundamental values of our country and the city of Alexandria, which I am honored to be its mayor. I participate in any activity that can make women from different backgrounds realize their rights that I stand by and with any activity that will build bridges of understanding. “

And when we asked Mrs. Jihan Andoni about what she aspires to achieve through NAAWA, founded two years ago by a small group of women; she said “Our vision and mission is to be a voice for all American Arab women to change the misconceptions about Arab-American women, we celebrate the anniversary of women every year, and  invite a group of Arab and American women from different backgrounds to talk about the positive aspects of what we believe in, the need to engage with the community and other components, and the ability to build bridges, relationships and the foundations of mutual understanding.  We remember our achievements to maintain our focus and help each other. As if we could all accept the other with its differences and similarities and work together we could make beautiful things. We appreciate the art, the heritage, the music, the respect for women, and we have many women leaders in society. “

For her part, Hazami Barmada expressed her happiness to be present at this celebration, which she considered to be one of the most important things, which can prove that women can contribute a lot of beauty and success to this country.  She adding that, “this country is our home; we hold each other to celebrate and honor the success of women, and hold our country together to be more influential and to contribute to thinking about ways that will help society more. I hope that we can encourage and help people to realize that we can do much if we come together. We come together to responsibly maintain the cohesion of our society and to give ourselves and each other a push to improve those aspects that need a development. “

Zaha Hassan pointed to the importance of meeting Arab women and Muslim women, adding that “these activities, especially at this time full of negatives, assure people that our integration is great in our American society, like any other American citizen. I now see around me a lot of art, Arabic music, people interaction, yes, that activities are a great opportunity to make connections with others through art, culture and tradition, and I hope to see future contributions and attendance to non-Arab Americans, to learn about our culture. “

In conclusion, all participants agreed on the importance of these activities and meetings that would be a good opportunity to celebrate the achievements and great contributions of the people in society, pointing out the presence of many Arab women, the American women, creative and successful despite the negative posed by some media, which is never real.

About the author

Rawaa Ali is an Iraqi graduate of Cinema and TV Production. She has more than 15 years experience in TV and radio production. Her Arabic writing and editing experience includes writing and editing news, social, cultural and entertainment, scripts, and scenario for documentaries and stories.

بقلم‭ ‬رواء‭ ‬علي‭ ‬

وسط‭ ‬اجواءٍ‭ ‬إحتفالية‭ ‬جمعت‭ ‬نخبةٌ‭ ‬من‭ ‬سيدات‭ ‬أعمال‭ ‬وفنانات‭ ‬ومثقفات‭ ‬الجالية‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬الأمريكية‭ ‬بمناسبة‭ ‬الإحتفال‭ ‬بيوم‭ ‬المرأة‭ ‬العالمي‭ ‬وشهر‭ ‬التراث‭ ‬العربي‭ ‬الأمريكي‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬أقامته‭ ‬رابطة‭ ‬المرأة‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬الأمريكية‭ (‬نوى‭) ‬في‭ ‬فندق‭ ‬الشيراتون‭ ‬الكائن‭ ‬في‭ ‬تايسون‭ ‬بقاعة‭ ‬ليسبيرغ‭ ‬بايك‭ ‬في‭ ‬مدينة‭ ‬فيينا‭ ‬بولاية‭ ‬فرجينيا‭ ‬في‭ ‬الثاني‭ ‬من‭ ‬نيسان‭/‬أبريل‭ ‬2017‭ ‬شارك‭ ‬بعض‭ ‬الفنانين‭ ‬في‭ ‬تقديم‭ ‬عروضٍ‭ ‬ونشاطات‭ ‬وأعمال‭ ‬فنية‭ ‬متنوعة‭ ‬كاللوحات‭ ‬الفنية‭ ‬الصور‭ ‬الفوتوغرافية‭ ‬والأشغال‭ ‬اليدوية‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬جانب‭ ‬عرضاٌ‭ ‬للأزياء‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬التقليدية‭ ‬قبل‭ ‬البدء‭ ‬بالإحتفال‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬أشرفت‭ ‬عليه‭ ‬رئيسة‭ ‬رابطة‭ ‬المرأة‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬الأمريكية‭ (‬نوى‭) ‬السيدة‭ ‬جيهان‭ ‬أندوني‭ ‬وعدد‭ ‬من‭ ‬العضوات‭ ‬والمتطوعات‭ ‬مما‭ ‬أتاح‭ ‬للحضور‭ ‬فرصة‭ ‬طيبة‭ ‬للتعارف‭ ‬ولتبادل‭ ‬الخبرات‭ ‬والثقافات‭.‬

حضرت‭ ‬الإحتفال‭ ‬عمدة‭ ‬مدينة‭ ‬ألكساندريا‭ ‬بولاية‭ ‬فرجينيا‭ ‬السيدة‭ ‬أليسون‭ ‬سيلبربيرغ‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬جانب‭ ‬شخصيات‭ ‬عربية‭ ‬لامعة‭ ‬في‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬الامريكي‭ ‬كالمحامية‭ ‬في‭ ‬مجال‭ ‬حقوق‭ ‬الانسان‭ ‬وزميلة‭ ‬مؤسسة‭ ‬أمريكا‭ ‬الجديدة‭ ‬السيدة‭ ‬زها‭ ‬حسن‭ ‬والرائدة‭ ‬المجتمعية‭ ‬الآنسة‭ ‬حزامي‭ ‬برمدا‭ ‬اللآتي‭ ‬تشرفنا‭ ‬بالحديث‭ ‬معهن‭ ‬حول‭ ‬أهمية‭ ‬ودور‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬الإحتفالات‭ ‬والتجمعات‭ ‬النسوية‭ ‬في‭ ‬التعريف‭ ‬عن‭ ‬الثقافة‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬وإنخراط‭ ‬المرأة‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬في‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬الأمريكي‭.‬

بدأت‭ ‬مراسيم‭ ‬الإحتفال‭ ‬بإفتتاح‭ ‬قاعة‭ ‬الشيراتون‭ ‬على‭ ‬أنغام‭ ‬الموسيقى‭ ‬والغناء‭ ‬العربي‭. ‬ثم‭ ‬ألقت‭ ‬الضيفات‭ ‬كلماتهن‭ ‬أمام‭ ‬الحضور‭ ‬بدءاً‭ ‬من‭ ‬حزامي‭ ‬برمدا‭ ‬تلتها‭ ‬جيهان‭ ‬أندوني‭ ‬ثم‭ ‬أليسون‭ ‬سيلبربيرغ‭ ‬لتختتم‭ ‬زها‭ ‬حسن‭ ‬الحفل‭ ‬بكلمتها‭ ‬بعد‭ ‬أن‭ ‬تناول‭ ‬الجميع‭ ‬وجبة‭ ‬العشاء‭ ‬في‭ ‬أجواء‭ ‬تفاعلية‭ ‬إيجابية‭ ‬وعروض‭ ‬فنية‭ ‬تبادل‭ ‬خلالها‭ ‬الحضور‭ ‬من‭ ‬النساء‭ ‬والرجال‭ ‬أطراف‭ ‬الحديث‭ ‬حول‭ ‬إنجازاتهم‭ ‬وطموحاتهم‭ ‬وأهمية‭ ‬التواصل‭ ‬والمشاركة‭ ‬بمختلف‭ ‬النشاطات‭ ‬التي‭ ‬من‭ ‬شأنها‭ ‬أن‭ ‬تعزز‭ ‬الترابط‭ ‬المجتمعي‭ ‬لمختلف‭ ‬النساء‭ ‬وتعزيز‭ ‬مفهوم‭ ‬تبادل‭ ‬الخبرات‭ ‬وتطوير‭ ‬المرأة‭ ‬لذاتها‭.‬

كان‭ ‬لنا‭ ‬شرف‭ ‬الحوار‭ ‬مع‭ ‬عمدة‭ ‬مدينة‭ ‬ألكساندريا‭ ‬السيدة‭ ‬أليسون‭ ‬سلبربيرغ‭ ‬وعند‭ ‬سؤالنا‭ ‬لها‭ ‬فيما‭ ‬إذا‭ ‬كان‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬الإحتفال‭ ‬هو‭ ‬أول‭ ‬تجمع‭ ‬تحضرهُ‭ ‬للجالية‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬الأمريكية‭ ‬أشارت‭ ‬قائلة‭: ‬‮«‬لقد‭ ‬حضرت‭ ‬العديد‭ ‬من‭ ‬النشاطات‭ ‬للعرب‭ ‬الأمريكيين،‭ ‬لكنها‭ ‬المرة‭ ‬الأولى‭ ‬التي‭ ‬ألقي‭ ‬فيها‭ ‬كلمة‭ ‬بتجمع‭ ‬للعرب‭ ‬الأمريكيين‭ ‬والأول‭ ‬لي‭ ‬مع‭ ‬رابطة‭ (‬نوى‭) ‬ويشرفني‭  ‬أن‭ ‬أتواجد‭ ‬هنا‭ ‬اليوم‮»‬‭.‬

هل‭ ‬تعتقدين‭ ‬بأن‭ ‬منظمة‭ (‬نوى‭) ‬يمكنها‭ ‬المساهمة‭ ‬في‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬المحلي‭ ‬من‭ ‬خلال‭ ‬هكذا‭ ‬نشاطات؟

‮«‬في‭ ‬الحقيقة،‭ ‬لقد‭ ‬تعرفت‭ ‬على‭ ‬رابطة‭ (‬نوى‭) ‬في‭ ‬الأيام‭ ‬والأسابيع‭ ‬الماضية‭. ‬أعتقد‭ ‬بأن‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬التجمع‭ ‬هو‭ ‬جزء‭ ‬من‭ ‬التنوع‭ ‬ومن‭ ‬القيم‭ ‬الأساسية‭ ‬التي‭ ‬يحظى‭ ‬بها‭ ‬بلدنا‭ ‬ومدينة‭ ‬ألكساندريا‭ ‬التي‭ ‬أتشرف‭ ‬بكوني‭ ‬عمدتها‭. ‬كما‭ ‬إنني‭ ‬أشارك‭ ‬بأي‭ ‬نشاط‭ ‬من‭ ‬شأنه‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يشجع‭ ‬النساء‭ ‬ومن‭ ‬مختلف‭ ‬الخلفيات‭ ‬بأن‭ ‬يُدركن‭ ‬حقوقهن‭ ‬التي‭ ‬أقف‭ ‬بجانبها‭ ‬بكل‭ ‬تأكيد‭ ‬ومع‭ ‬أي‭ ‬نشاط‭ ‬من‭ ‬شأنه‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يبني‭ ‬جسوراً‭ ‬للتفاهم‮»‬‭.‬

وفي‭ ‬حديثنا‭ ‬مع‭ ‬السيدة‭ ‬جيهان‭ ‬أندوني‭ ‬حول‭ ‬ما‭ ‬تطمح‭ ‬إليه‭ ‬من‭ ‬خلال‭ ‬رابطة‭ (‬نوى‭) ‬التي‭ ‬تأسست‭ ‬قبل‭ ‬عامين‭ ‬من‭ ‬مجموعة‭ ‬صغيرة‭ ‬النساء‭ ‬ذكرت‭ ‬‮«‬إن‭ ‬رؤيتنا‭ ‬ومهمتنا‭ ‬هي‭ ‬أن‭ ‬نكون‭ ‬صوتاً‭ ‬لكل‭ ‬النساء‭ ‬العربيات‭ ‬الأمريكيات،‭ ‬لتغيير‭ ‬المفاهيم‭ ‬الخاطئة‭ ‬حول‭ ‬المرأة‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬الأمريكية‭. ‬فنحن‭ ‬نحتفل‭ ‬سنوياً‭ ‬بعيد‭ ‬المرأة‭ ‬وندعوا‭ ‬نخبة‭ ‬من‭ ‬النساء‭ ‬العربيات‭ ‬والأمريكيات‭ ‬من‭ ‬مختلف‭ ‬الخلفيات‭ ‬للحديث‭ ‬عن‭ ‬إيجابية‭ ‬ما‭ ‬نؤمن‭ ‬به‭ ‬وضرورة‭ ‬الإنخراط‭ ‬مع‭ ‬شراح‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬ومكوناته‭ ‬الأخرى‭ ‬والقدرة‭ ‬على‭ ‬مد‭ ‬الجسور‭ ‬وبناء‭ ‬العلاقات‭ ‬وأسس‭ ‬التفاهم‭ ‬المشترك‭. ‬ونستذكر‭ ‬منجزاتنا‭ ‬لنحافظ‭ ‬على‭ ‬تركيزنا‭ ‬ونساعد‭ ‬بعضنا‭ ‬الآخر‭ ‬لأننا‭ ‬لو‭ ‬تمكنا‭ ‬جميعاً‭ ‬من‭ ‬تقبل‭ ‬بعصنا‭ ‬الآخر‭ ‬بإختلافاته‭ ‬وتشابهاته‭ ‬والعمل‭ ‬سويةً‭ ‬لأستطعنا‭ ‬صنع‭ ‬أشياء‭ ‬جميلة‭. ‬نحن‭ ‬وبكل‭ ‬تأكيد‭ ‬نقدر‭ ‬الفن‭ ‬التراث‭ ‬الموسيقى‭ ‬ونحترم‭ ‬المرأة‭ ‬ولدينا‭ ‬العديد‭ ‬من‭ ‬النساء‭ ‬القائدات‭ ‬في‭ ‬المجتمع‮»‬‭.‬

من‭ ‬جانبها‭ ‬أعربت‭ ‬حزامي‭ ‬برمدا‭ ‬عن‭ ‬سعاداتها‭ ‬بالتواجد‭ ‬في‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬الإحتفال‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬إعتبرته‭ ‬من‭ ‬الأمور‭ ‬المهمة‭ ‬التي‭ ‬يمكنها‭ ‬ان‭ ‬تثبت‭ ‬بأن‭ ‬النساء‭ ‬يمكنهن‭ ‬المساهمة‭ ‬بالكثير‭ ‬من‭ ‬الجمال‭ ‬والنجاح‭ ‬لهذا‭ ‬البلد‭ ‬مضيفةً‭ ‬‮«‬إن‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬البلد‭ ‬هو‭ ‬بيتنا‭. ‬نمسك‭ ‬بعضنا‭ ‬بيد‭ ‬للإحتفاء‭ ‬وتشريف‭ ‬نجاح‭ ‬النساء‭ ‬وباليد‭ ‬الأخرى‭ ‬نمسك‭ ‬مجتمعنا‭ ‬سوية‭ ‬ليكون‭ ‬أكثر‭ ‬تأثيرا‭ ‬وللمساهمة‭ ‬بالتفكير‭ ‬بوسائل‭ ‬تساعد‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬بصورة‭ ‬أكبر‭. ‬أملي‭ ‬بقدرتنا‭ ‬على‭ ‬تشجيع‭ ‬ومساعدة‭ ‬الناس‭ ‬وإدراكهم‭ ‬بأننا‭ ‬قادرات‭ ‬على‭ ‬فعل‭ ‬الكثير‭ ‬إذا‭ ‬ما‭ ‬أجتمعنا‭ ‬سوية‭. ‬فنحن‭ ‬نجتمع‭ ‬لنحافظ‭ ‬على‭ ‬تماسك‭ ‬مجتمعنا‭ ‬بشكل‭ ‬مسؤول‭ ‬ولكي‭ ‬نعطي‭ ‬إندفاعا‭ ‬لأنفسنا‭ ‬ولبعضنا‭ ‬البعض‭ ‬لتحسين‭ ‬بعض‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬الجوانب‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تحتاح‭ ‬الى‭ ‬التطوير‮»‬‭.‬

في‭ ‬حين‭ ‬أشارت‭ ‬زها‭ ‬حسن‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬أهمية‭ ‬إلتقاء‭ ‬النساء‭ ‬العربيات‭ ‬والمسلمات‭ ‬الأمريكيات‭ ‬مضيفةً‭ ‬‮«‬إننا‭ ‬بهذه‭ ‬النشاطات‭ ‬خاصة‭ ‬في‭ ‬الوقت‭ ‬الراهن‭ ‬المليء‭ ‬بالسلبيات‭ ‬نؤكد‭ ‬للناس‭ ‬بأن‭ ‬إندماجنا‭ ‬كبير‭ ‬في‭ ‬مجتمعنا‭ ‬الأمريكي‭ ‬حالنا‭ ‬كحال‭ ‬أي‭ ‬مواطن‭ ‬أمريكي‭ ‬أخر‭. ‬أرى‭ ‬الآن‭ ‬من‭ ‬حولي‭ ‬الكثير‭ ‬من‭ ‬الفن‭ ‬الموسيقى‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬تفاعل‭ ‬الناس‭ ‬نعم‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬النشاطات‭ ‬فرصة‭ ‬كبيرة‭ ‬لصنع‭ ‬الروابط‭ ‬مع‭ ‬الآخرين‭ ‬من‭ ‬خلال‭ ‬الفن‭ ‬الثقافة‭ ‬التقاليد‭. ‬وأتمنى‭ ‬أن‭ ‬أرى‭ ‬مستقبلاً‭ ‬مساهمات‭ ‬وحضور‭ ‬لغير‭ ‬العرب‭ ‬الأمريكيين‭ ‬للإطلاع‭ ‬على‭ ‬ثقافتنا‮»‬‭.‬

وفي‭ ‬الختام‭ ‬إتفق‭ ‬جميع‭ ‬الحضور‭ ‬على‭ ‬أهمية‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬النشاطات‭ ‬واللقاءات‭ ‬التي‭ ‬من‭ ‬شأنها‭ ‬ان‭ ‬تكون‭ ‬فرصة‭ ‬جيدة‭ ‬للإحتفال‭ ‬بالإنجازات‭ ‬والمساهمات‭ ‬العظيمة‭ ‬للناس‭ ‬في‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬مشيرين‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬وجود‭ ‬الكثير‭ ‬من‭ ‬النساء‭ ‬العربيات‭ ‬الامريكيات‭ ‬الملهمات‭ ‬المبدعات‭ ‬والناجحات‭ ‬على‭ ‬الرغم‭ ‬من‭ ‬السلبية‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تطرحها‭ ‬بعض‭ ‬وسائل‭ ‬الإعلام‭ ‬والتي‭ ‬لا‭ ‬تمت‭ ‬لحقيقة‭ ‬المرأة‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬بصلة‭.‬