A World of Dance

An insightful exploration into Syrian Culture in American reveals an unknown world of beauty.

In a world of ethnic and national divides, we rarely see a celebration of mixed culture. America is known as the ‘Melting-Pot,’ yet society is excluding those they consider ‘outsiders.’ The Syrian Cultural House in Washington, D.C. is attempting to change all that.
The Syrian Cultural House held the first annual Syria Fest on Sept. 3.
The Syria Fest in Washington, D.C. celebrates not only Syrian culture, but the incorporation of Syrian practices into American culture.
The House is a nonprofit, working “to conserve and promote Syrian heritage and culture; build cultural and social bridges with the local communities and the American public; and support the acclimation of newly-arrived Syrian emigrants, asylee, and refugees,” according to syriafest.com.
The festivities included musicians, singers, dancers, music and organizations supporting Syrians in need.
While many aspects of Syrian culture were represented, the cultural dances connected attendees in a way I’d never seen before.
Throughout the day, attendees would join hands and dance in the name of their culture.
Complete strangers joined together to celebrate their heritage and community.
The dances weren’t specific to Syria: they were from all Arab nations, creating a link within different cultures.
That link was beautiful and magnificent.
All it took was one song, and people of different nations and tongues joined together in celebration of unity. Even in a foreign country, stripped from a land they once called home, these people could still dance. Even with the violence and horrors in Syria, the attendees celebrated their nation.
The nation they celebrated was not one of a government, but of a united people. A people united by blood, music, food and dance.
As an outside viewer of this culture, I still felt welcomed.
I didn’t meet one person who was less than excited to share their culture with me.
I was invited to dance, sing, eat and dress in traditional cultural garb. If I wasn’t familiar with an aspect of the culture, I wasn’t laughed at or ridiculed, but taught by a caring teacher.
This festival enveloped me in an unfamiliar culture.
I realized the only way to truly understand a culture is to immerse yourself within it.
I highly recommend attending any cultural events on or off campus. You never know if you’ll witness a life-changing moment. n

“The Syrian Cultural House is a nonprofit based in the Greater Washington, D.C. area, that aims to conserve and promote Syrian heritage and culture; build cultural and social bridges with local communities and the American public; and support the acclimation of newly-arrived Syrian emigrants, asylee, and refugees”

— syriafest.com

 

by Katie Hall

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