The PTO Diversity Council (DivCo) at Lincoln Elementary School hosted a one-hour virtual workshop for families on April 24, in honor of National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM).
Families and DivCo spent their Sunday morning listening and learning with educator, entrepreneur and Oak Park parent, Dima Ali. Born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, Ali immigrated to the United States almost 20 years ago and according to her bio, now “educates and dispels misconceptions about the immigration process, the immigrant experience, and Muslims in America to combat anti-immigration narratives and Islamophobia.”
NAAHM takes place in April each year and pays tribute to the diverse histories and contributions of Arab Americans and Arabic-speaking Americans.
Ali discussed topics such as coffee making, calligraphy and cultural dress with Lincoln families, as well as language, geography and religion, in a way that was accessible and engaging for students as well as adults.
The workshop was designed by Ali to “give families a deeper understanding and appreciation for the nuance of Muslim practice and culture; critical thought processes around how Islam is often portrayed in the media; and resources for continuing self-education and becoming an ally against Islamaphobia.”
In addition to educating families on Arab American culture, history and current events, she also shared her personal story and history, which Lincoln parent and event organizer Andrea Kovach said was a powerful experience for her family and others.
“When we listen with open hearts and minds to the experiences of people who have had different journeys than us, it's an opportunity to learn and grow and connect to one another as neighbors,” Kovach said. “We hopefully are less quick to stereotype others and more apt to hold our hearts and minds open, and be more inquisitive, truly inclusive and compassionate in our school and home communities. We are all enriched.”