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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."