Arab-American Heritage Month

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by Moudi Sbeity, MCIC Graduate Assistant, Mindfulness Based Transpersonal Counseling ’26


Arab American Heritage Month arrives on a platter of grief. With the ongoing genocide of Palestinians in Gaza, the slew of economic and political corruptions in countries like Lebanon and Syria, and the rise in Anti-Arab sentiment across the United States, it’s difficult to settle into celebration. The last few months have been particularly difficult. With my family in Southern Lebanon right at the border, I’ve had to maintain diligent focus on my schoolwork and community instead of being siphoned away into newsreels. I’ve consciously ignored what’s going on half a globe away in order to attentively tend to the opportunities I have here at Naropa. And while I have no intention to erase or deny the difficult reality many Arabs face on their own land and in the United States, I’ve come to realize that celebrating my heritage wherever I can is in fact necessary. Doing so is not only an act of political resistance, but stands as a sacred approach to actively championing liberation for those needlessly suffering. This is one way to engage in the sacred activism of keeping the embers of hope alive. 

I’ll spare you the history lesson and the political facts – there are thousands of books and documentaries on the subject. What you won’t find out there is the tender relationship we as Arabs carry to a culture founded on the sacredness of communal celebration. A culture prized on its history of storytelling and the stunned beauty of a language stemming from the heart of what it means to be alive. Like how we have a fistful of words to say “I love you” – habibi (my beloved), hayete (my life), oyouni (my eyes), rouhi (my soul), to’borni (be the one who buries me), bmout fiek (I die in you – to mean that with you I forget who I am and become joined by your very existence, by your undulating breath). The way we move through the world doesn’t end in our mystifying language, but how we shape the spaces between us on the premise of shared grief and shared joy.

It is common for the whole village to descend into the streets and recite poetic pleas when someone dear passes away. Though the occasion lends itself to the harrowing events of change, still you’ll find endless tables of meticulously prepared feasts. Even then we know to celebrate our sorrow. What is celebration if not the sacredness of bearing witness to each other’s story? Here is a poem I’ve written inspired by the grief I’m holding for Gaza. 


Thanking God That We Live


What gets me the most, what I keep 

thinking of is the man who, after a 

missile had demolished his home,

stood in full self-attendance among

an audience of decimated concrete 

with dust in his hair and scorch marks 

across his face uttering nothing but 

gratitude for his life.

Alhamdulillah – Gratitude be to Allah


How deep must our faith run?

How totally must our heart break so 

that gratitude sprouts off our tongues,

so that the mere fact of our standing is 

enough reason to offer thanks for this 

one life we’ve been given. Even if 

everything we’ve ever known has been 

taken, and especially then.



Here at Naropa we join our voices in honoring and celebrating the many Arab Americans in our community that today sit with both the gratitude for their heritage, and the grief which comes with harrowing loss. We also recognize that the Arab American community is not homogenous as we’ve come to see on the news. There is a rich tapestry of religious and spiritual traditions, various customs and dialects, and numerous dialectical approaches to life. The abundance of the Arab traditions enrich our lives here as we work hand-in-hand towards a more beautiful world.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer you a taste of the true nature of our heritage, of what it means to love life against the odds. Below you’ll find a list of poems, songs, and recipes as an invitation to experience our world. It is through song, poetry, and shared meals that we gather in communion, that we pray our bodies into ongoing gratitude, often reciting on our lips alhamdullilah – thank God that we live.
May these offerings enrich your day, and may you too find the determination to celebrate as an act of solidarity. 

Written by Moudi Sbeity, MCIC Graduate Assistant, Mindfulness Based Transpersonal Counseling ’26
Hills in northern Lebanon – Photo by Moudi Sbeity
Grandmother of Moudi Sbeity
My grandmother at our village home in the south of Lebanon – Photo by Moudi Sbeity
Jaffa farmers
Cultivated by Palestinian farmers in Jaffa during the 20th century, the Jaffa orange named after the port city, and also known as the Shamouti orange, is a defining symbol of Palestinian national identity. Its distinct deep orange colour and sweet taste made it suitable for export and highly prized throughout the world. Jaffa oranges once served as a key export commodity for the Palestinian economy. (Library of Congress) – From Middle East Eye (Source below)
photo by Moudi Sbeity
A man selling unshelled walnuts and almonds on the streets of downtown Beirut – Photo by Moudi Sbeity



Check out the Dharma of Solidarity events and workshops coming up at Naropa.

Arab American Foundation

Denver Public Library resources

History Channel educational resources

Life in Palestine from 1890 to 1937 – Middle East Eye


Fairuz – Edash Kan Fi Nas – Fairuz is a widely known singer in the Middle East whose songs are unanimously played throughout the morning: from corner bakeries to taxi cabs and schools.

Nizar Qabbani is a Syrian poet who wrote about love and beauty. Many of his writings were later turned into song, like this song titled The School Of Love, sung by Iraqi artist Kazim Al Saher

Granada by Marcel Khalife. Marcel Khalife is a Lebanese composer and singer who plays the oud in this song with a mix of Spanish/Arabic tunes. Close your eyes and travel with the melody in this song. Sit with this as a sound meditation.

Fasateen by Mashrou’ Leila – Modern Lebanese band

Jowan Safadi – Super White Man – Palestinian Musician

Julia Botros – Ya Osas – A Lebanese song about the tenderness of stories

Ghir Enta – Souad Massi– Franco-Algerian singer/songwriter


Mahmoud Darwish – Write Down, I Am Arab – Mahmoud Darwish is a Palestinian poet who dedicated his life to the cause of Palestinian liberation. His poems and voice are widely known and celebrated.Text version of the poem ID Card

Naomi Shihab Nye – Gate A-4. Naomi is a Palestinian American poet who writes tenderly about her experience as an Arab American.

Insha’Allah by Danusha Lameris

Khalil Gibran – And When My Sorrow Was Born – Lebanese artist and poet who spent most of his life in the United States


Muhammara is a red pepper dip made with walnuts and onions, and it is oh so tasty. Check out this recipe by Joummana Acad from Taste Of Beirut

Labne with Za’atar on Toast – a short cooking segment I did for ABC4 Utah

Loobya: Green bean stew

Palestine On a Plate – Fabulous cookbook worth having in your kitchen


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Naropa Campuses Closed on Friday, March 15, 2024

Due to adverse weather conditions, all Naropa campuses will be closed Friday, March 15, 2024.  All classes that require a physical presence on campus will be canceled. All online and low-residency programs are to meet as scheduled.

Based on the current weather forecast, the Healing with the Ancestors Talk & Breeze of Simplicity program scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday will be held as planned.

Staff that do not work remotely or are scheduled to work on campus, can work remotely. Staff that routinely work remotely are expected to continue to do so.

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