You found our list of the best Arab American Heritage Month ideas for work.
Arab American Heritage Month happens in April. The occasion is a celebration of Arab culture and ancestry and an acknowledgment of the contributions that the community has made to wider society. Ways to celebrate Arab American Heritage Month at work include lunches, charity donations, scavenger hunts, and book clubs. The purpose of these events is to recognize and empower Arab team members and create a sense of solidarity between all workers. This holiday is also known as National Arab Heritage Month.
These celebrations are examples of virtual diversity activities and are similar to virtual Black History Month, Asian Pacific Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and Indigenous Heritage Month. These events often include Arab heritage month quotes.
Note: Arab American Heritage Month typically refers to the majority of Arabic-speaking countries. It is important to note that not all countries in the Middle East speak Arabic, and some nationalities may disagree with being labeled Arabic. You should research before grouping certain countries under the Arabic umbrella, or you could follow a theme of Middle Eastern Heritage Month instead to be more inclusive.
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Here are the ideas.
List of Arab American Heritage Month ideas
Here are some ideas to celebrate Arab American Heritage Month with groups in the office or at school.
1. Team Lunch
Team Lunches are one of the most popular ways to celebrate Arab Heritage month at work. The Middle East has a rich culinary history and plenty of delicious dishes like hummus, falafel, fattoush, kibbeh, halloumi, and shawarma. First, find a Middle Eastern restaurant near the workplace, then make reservations for the team to dine in or arrange catering. This activity gives teammates the opportunity to have casual conversations with coworkers and bond while discovering a new cuisine.
You can highlight a different region’s restaurant each week or set up a one-time buffet of many different dishes. The team could also take a cooking class together and learn how to prepare an Arabic meal.
Here is a guide to doing team lunches virtually.
2. Museum Tour
Museum tours are one of the most engaging and educational ways to participate in Arab American Heritage Month. You can do a virtual tour of the Arab American National museum as well as review other website resources like pictures, videos, and audio tours of the key galleries. You could also visit a local museum that has Arabic exhibits. Since a large part of ancient human history happened in areas that are now part of the Arab world, such as Egypt, there is a good chance that a nearby museum will have a relevant gallery. However it is also important to pay attention to modern day Arab history and culture. Consider also touring an art gallery that features Arabic artists.
Check out this list of museums to tour online.
Mosaics are an art form that originated in the Middle East and feature prominently in Arabic artwork. These projects also make good team building exercises. First, provide teammates with small, colored materials such as beads, tiles, pieces of glass, pieces of paper, or random objects. You can also ask participants to bring their own objects to make the piece more personal. Then, have team members glue the pieces together on a central canvas bit by bit to create a larger picture. Each department or team can make their own mosaic, or you can create one large mosaic as an office. Or, for a less messy alternative, print out mosaic-style coloring pages, set up markers and colored pencils, and encourage teammates to complete the picture by adding different colors.
This activity sparks creativity and teamwork and can serve as a stress reliever.
4. Arabic Themed Lunch and Learn
Lunch and learns are one of the best ideas for any heritage month. These educational events give workers the ability to learn more about a topic during lunch breaks, often while enjoying a complimentary meal or snack. For Arabic Heritage month, you can feature talks on topics such as the Arab world’s influence on modern culture, how to be an ally to Arab individuals and fight discrimination, distinctions between Arab countries, and contributions to your feild made by Arabic professionals.
To plan a lunch and learn, first find a speaker, then schedule a time, secure a space, and invite listeners to drop by or tune in digitally. Providing food tends to encourage participation.
For tips, check out this guide to doing lunch and learns online.
5. Arab Heritage Trivia
Trivia is one of the most fun Arab American Heritage month games. Since Arab History stretches back thousands of years, there is no shortage of material to pull questions from. You can create categories such as geography, famous figures, art, literature, entertainment, and language. There are many ways to structure and play the game, for example Jeopardy, Kahoot!, posting questions on a bulletin board or on Slack, or asking players to complete and submit a form. For best results, have employees work in teams. Trivia is a fun way to educate staff about Arab culture and to honor the accomplishments of members of this community.
6. Learn Arabic Scavenger Hunt
This version of a scavenger hunt is part treasure hunt and part language lesson. To make the game, first create a list of common objects teammates can find around the office or in the area. Then, translate these words into Arabic. Since most staff members are likely unfamiliar with the Arabic alphabet, you should use the Roman alphabet to spell these words out. Players must first translate the words, then find the item and snap a picture as proof. You can put a time limit on the game, for instance an hour, a workday or a week, and give prizes to the team with the most correct answers.
Pro tip: You can award extra points for creativity in photographs.
Check out this list of scavenger hunt clues for inspiration.
7. Care Packages
One of the most meaningful ways to celebrate Arab Heritage month at work is to support Arab-owned businesses by making up special care packages for employees. First, find Arab-owned small businesses that sell products like snacks, tea or coffee, art and stationery, self-care products, and jewelry or apparel. Choose one item from each business, order the products, then assemble the packages. You can include cards with information and QR codes for each business and encourage employees to continue to support these entrepreneurs.
8. Charity Donations
Arab American Heritage Month can be a time to give back to the community by way of charitable giving. You and the team can hold a fundraiser to raise money for a nonprofit that services the Arab community. Or, you can make a company donation to a chosen charity of choice. Best practice for this approach is to offer an employer contribution, either a fixed amount or by matching employee donations.
Here are some organization recommendations:
- Center for Arab American Philanthropy
- Arab Foundations Forum (Note- this is a group of Arab nonprofits)
- Arab American Association of NY
- Arab America Foundation
You can also find local organizations to volunteer for or donate to.
Check out this list of virtual fundraising ideas.
The Middle East is known for its music, and one of the easiest ways to celebrate Arab culture is by holding an office concert. You can hire a band to play classical or more modern Arabic music, and can even include time for a Q&A and a quick musical lesson or take song requests during the show. First, book a musician. Then, arrange for the band or performer to play in a common space at a designated time, or send staff a livestream to tune into.
If getting a live performer is outside of the company budget, then you could curate a playlist of Middle Eastern music to share with the team instead.
10. Dance Exhibits
The Arab world has a rich history of folk dancing, and shining a spotlight on this art makes for great entertainment during Arab History Month. Simply find a local dance group or solo performer, then book the dancers to visit the office and give a performance. If your employees are gung-ho, then you can even plan an introductory dance class to show participants basic steps.
11. Arab Heritage Quotes
Sharing quotes from notable Arab figures is one of the easiest and quickest ways to observe Arab American Heritage Month in the office. Throughout the month, you can end company communications with such quotes, or can post a quote of the day each morning. You can also use these quotes within social media posts, and as motivation during morning meetings. This exercise can be a gateway to learning more about Arab leaders, as folks may feel inspired to learn more about the speakers after hearing the powerful sentiments.
12. Book Club
Book clubs are one of the best cultural activities. Simply assign a book by an Arab or Arab American author, give teammates at least a month to read, then meet up on Zoom or in a conference room to discuss the title. This exercise is powerful because it gives the Arab community a voice and gives participants insights into firsthand accounts of the Arab experience.
Here is a list of Arab American History Month book suggestions from Bustle, and one from bookriot. For more ideas for required work reading, check out this directory of book suggestions.
13. Virtual Backgrounds
Zoom backgrounds are one of the easiest virtual Arab American Heritage Month ideas. You and your team can liven up video calls by displaying on-theme graphics. You can ask your graphic design team or commission an artist to make special branded backgrounds for the team to use. Or, find pictures online of Middle Eastern destinations or designs.
Here are more ways to make Zoom meetings fun.
14. Country of the Day
Although many Arab nations share similar cultures, each country has its own traditions and unique flair. Many folks have misconceptions or limited knowledge about the Middle East. You can use Arab American Heritage Month to educate your staff about the region. Every few days, send out an email highlighting an Arab nation. You can include facts like famous landmarks and tourist spots, population, notable figures, flags, foods, and holidays and festivals. To turn the profile into a more interactive activity, ask teammates to share their connection to the country by sharing whether they have ever visited, would like to visit, share this country’s heritage, or have family living there.
15. Employee Resource Groups
Employee resource groups are often a company’s best asset when planning heritage month celebrations. If you have an existing Arab ERG, then you can partner with members to plan company wide programming such as lunches, discussions, and blog posts. If you do not yet have such a group, then this month is a great time to consider launching one. Or, if your organization is too small to sustain such a group, then you can connect employees with community or professional organizations to ensure Arab team members have optimal support.
Here is a guide to employee resource groups.
16. Movie Night
Film screenings are easy Arab Heritage Month events. Simply choose a movie or documentary, set up a screen and projector or a screen share on a virtual meeting, and gather with your group to watch the movie together.
Here are some example titles:
- I exist: voices from the Middle Eastern lesbian & gay community
- In my own skin: the complexity of living as an Arab in America
- American Arab
- The Time That Remains
- Salt of this Sea
- The Feeling of Being Watched
Following the film, the group can have a discussion.
17. Tea or Coffee Tasting
Tea and coffee consumption is an important part of many Arab cultures. Gathering to share a hot beverage is a social ritual in many communities, and there are many types of drinks and traditions that are unique to the region. Arranging a tea or coffee tasting is one of the most fun and creative Arab American Heritage month activities. You can either find a facilitator that offers events centered around Arabic tea and coffee, or DIY your own kits by heading online or to a nearby import shop to pick up authentic tea and coffee blends. Then, gather the group, boil water, mix the drinks, sip, and share your opinions. For extra fun, end the activity by dabbling with fortune telling by reading grounds or tea leaves.
Pro tip: Order branded glass tea cups or mini coffee mugs to compliment the event.
18. Name Translations
Name translations are one of the most creative Arab American Heritage Month ideas. You can hire a fluent speaker or use an Arabic translation tool to translate staff names into the Arabic alphabet. Employees can copy and paste the names into their Slack displays or email signatures, or you can ask a calligrapher to make name signs for desks. This activity is interactive and personal and can help all employees feel included in the festivities.
The Arab world has had a major impact on human history, yet there is often a lack of knowledge about Arabic culture in the modern work world. Arabic culture is worth celebrating, and Arabic employees should be able to take pride in their heritage and share their culture with coworkers. Arab American Heritage Month is an opportunity to achieve this end and can provide valuable learning moments and bonding experiences for employees.
Next, check out this list of diversity and inclusion books.
FAQ: Arab American Heritage Month
Here are answers to common questions about Arab American Heritage Month
When is Arab American Heritage Month?
Arab American Heritage Month is in April. The holiday honors Middle Eastern culture and history and recognizes the contributions the community has made to the workforce and wider world.
What are some good ways to celebrate Arab American Heritage Month in the office?
Some good ways to celebrate Arab American Heritage Month in the office include trivia, lunch and learns, team meals, care packages, tea or coffee tastings, concerts, and quotes.
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