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Culture for a good cause

Arab Formal raises money for Syrian refugees.

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Culture for a good cause


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By Natalie Betz

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The Arab Students Association of the University of Iowa succeeded in raising $829 at the Arab Formal for Syrian Refugees, while showcasing their culture to the public on April 28.

The Arab Students Association held a charity Middle Eastern dinner on April 28 to help support the Karam Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps aid Syrian refugees.

According to the foundation’s website, its mission is to “develop innovative education programs for Syrian refugee youth, distribute smart aid to Syrian families, and fund sustainable development projects initiated by Syrians for Syrians.”

Through the event, members hope to shine a light on issues in Syria, said Adel Elessais, the treasurer of the Arab Student Association. The Karam Foundation’s means are different, because it works to help all refugees. Approximately 100 to 150 people attended the formal to help the cause.

Currently, the Karam Foundation’s “impact expands across Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, building a better future for thousands of Syrian families,” according to the foundation’s website.

“This dinner helps a humanitarian cause, and helps relieve political tension with Arabs by showing a face the public doesn’t ordinarily get to see. We are not war and suicide,” said Gada Herz, the president of the Arab Students Association.

The formal highlighted some of the beautiful parts of Arab culture that is not typically shown, said Hiba Qasem, an executive board member of the association. Some Iraqi students also helped plan this event, Qasem said.

Not only did attendees support the charity, but they experienced Arab culture. The event consisted of traditional Middle Eastern food, as well as Al Salam Dabke Troupe, a dabke dance troupe, and Innah’s Middle Eastern Dance Troupe, a belly-dancing troupe.

“There will be storytellers and an Arabic poet, which will be fun to listen to,” Qasem said before the event.

Fatima Tall, an attendee, said she attended the event to support her friend in the Arab Students Association and because her family is Muslim. She loves the food and enjoys watching the performances.

“We wanted to see what the Arab culture is like because we are not familiar with the food and the culture. We wanted to experience it,” attendees Chandler Langmann and Parker White said.

The association plans to raise even more money for refugees in the near future.

The Arab Students Association will hold another fundraiser at Aspen Leaf Frozen Yogurt on Wednesday, and 25 percent of the proceeds will go to the Arab Students Association if the customer mentions the group. All proceeds they make will be donated to the Karam Foundation, Herz said.

“I’ve seen family and friends I haven’t seen in a while,” said attendee Sammy Alterbal. “The dancing is very fun, and it helps others feel comfortable, since people do not always accept Arabs.”

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