An Arab Henna Night United Milwaukee Communities:

Arab and Muslim women display the finest cultural dress they possess when attending special celebrations such as henna nights, weddings, and other group and community gatherings. The significance of attending these celebrations wearing cultural dress surpasses its esthetic meaning and reflects more on the deep connections that women establish with such an attire.  In order to display the social and cultural significance of the Henna day as a major celebration of womens cultural clothing, AMWRRI
Organized a Henna Night at Marquette University in cooperation with the Office of International Education. The event was also partly sponsored by a grant from Wisconsin Humanities Council, WHC.
The bride and the groom for this spectacular Henna Wedding day were two Marquette University students, Alexander Fabrizio, a senior in the College of Arts and Science, and his fiancé Rochelle Christensen. The event was very successful and well-attended. Everyone enjoyed the program, from the moment that they arrived and were seated in a cultural atmosphere listening to the Arabic folk music and songs, until the end of the ceremony, when attendees took pictures with the bride and the groom who were sitting on seats called the “looge” that were placed inside a traditional tent that was assembled inside the hall.Terence Miller, the Director of the Office of International Education who was among the attendees of the Henna Night celebration together with his family commented:
"The Henna Cultural night transported Marquette students, faculty and staff into the customs of an Arab village thousands of miles away. From the bedouin tent to the women dressed in colorful traditional dress the night represented the very best of what an authentic cultural event can do...have someone not from that culture envision themselves in the reality of another people. This transformation occurs in dress, food, music, tradition, dance and a new understanding through the lens of marriage of the oneness of all people who inhabit
the earth." 

The Pabst Mansion Event

The Arab and Muslim Women’s Research and Resource Institute (AMWRRI) continues to carry out its mission of documenting and sharing the experiences and histories of Arab and Muslim communities in the Greater Milwaukee area. Through oral interviews, we are creating an oral archive where women and men share their stories of immigration, integration and identity.  A particular focus this year is connecting identity to ways of cultural dress.  Our interviewers and researchers listen to the narrators, who are mostly women, speaking on the significance of cultural/religious clothing to them and their family members.  As women uncover the meaning of dress to them, we, as the general public, can gain better insight and understanding of the complexity of women’s identities.  The narrations help us appreciate diversity and accept difference without being judgmental and without surrendering to stereotypes directed towards Muslim women’s appearance and dress.
On February 13, 2013 AMWRRI held a public event at the Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee.   Dr. Enaya Othman, founder and president of AMWRRI, explained the organization’s mission and also introduced the event, “Cultural Dress and Identity Narratives among Arab and Muslim Women Immigrants in Greater Milwaukee.”  She gave a brief lecture on the importance of the oral history project.  Because this year’s oral history project is funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, we were delighted that Diane Reinhard, the Chair of the Wisconsin Humanities Council , was present and extended a warm welcome to all who attended.  Dr. Jeana Abromeit, an AMWRRI board member, expressed her appreciation for the support we’ve received from the WHC, welcomed the event’s participants (which was a robust 65-70 people), and explained how to become involved with AMWRRI.  A highlight of the evening was the presentations by the following oral researchers who conducted in-depth interviews with first- and second-generation immigrants:
Alexis Sammarco, Rawan Atari, Samantha Pryor, Affnan Musatief
We concluded the evening with a reception and the opportunity for people to get to know each other.

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AMWRII began the academic year of 2012-2013 with an Oral History Training Session on September 1. This session was designed to inform new volunteers and students’ research fellows about the goals of AMWRII and to provide some training for conducting oral interviews with Arab and Muslim Americans in the Milwaukee area. Dr. Enaya Othman began the session by providing information about the organization’s mission and also gave a brief overview of the history of Arab and Muslim immigration to the United States. Dr. Othman and Dr. Arijit Sen then proceeded to discuss the process by which AMWRII would select interviewees, and they suggested some guidelines and techniques for conducting the structured interviews. Afterwards, the group split into small sections in order to role play the interview process. Drs. Othman and Sen then discussed the importance of the consent and release of rights forms that they should have the interviewees sign. AMWRII volunteers will be going out to conduct interviews this fall, and hope to have the interviews transcribed and uploaded onto the website early next year!

Submitted by Caroline Seymour-Jorn

History of the Arab and Muslim Communities in Milwaukee

A wonderful group of Marquette Muslim students present to the community important information they gathered about the history and the experiences of the Arab and Muslim communities in Milwaukee since immigration. This event is a chance to learn about your community’s immigration history and its contributions to the larger American society. The themes include the issues of immigration, assimilation and/or integration, discrimination, the essential role religious centers such as the ISM play in the lives of Muslim community. especially in the strengthening of the Islamic identity and belonging among community’s members.

The first fundraising event for AMWRRI was held at the Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee (April 10, 2010). The event was a smashing success! The audience enjoyed Arabic food and listened to Dr. Enaya Othman 's brief history of the Arab and Muslim communities in Milwaukee from the late nineteenth century to today. Dr. Othman highlighted the contributions of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee
(ISM), the center for social, educational and religious activities engaging a wide range of Muslims from all different backgrounds. Dr. Othman also stressed the importance of documenting the history and the experiences of Arab and Muslim communities in the Greater Milwaukee region and the vital roles these communities have played in the historical, cultural, economic and urban development of the city. Board members, including as Dr. Jodi Melamed, shared the story of AMWRRI's founding, beginning with a group of woman who rallied around Dr. Othman's proposal to start the organization. In particular, she stressed the contributions of Alla Kadada, the Secretary of the organization, who was one of the first board members to join and support Dr. Othman's initiative.

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St. George Event

The Arab and Muslim Women’s Research and Resource Institute and the Department of Foreign Languages at Marquette University held an important informative event that took place at St. George Syrian Melkite Church, located at 1617 W. State Street on Sunday November 14th from 12:30-2:30. A group of Dr. Enaya Othman’s outstanding Marquette students talked about their work documenting the contribution of the Arab community in Milwaukee through oral interviews. The students highlighted and acknowledged the central place St. George Syrian Church played in the lives of the Arab-Christian community since 1917. They told the audience different stories of Arab Immigrants and their experiences facing and overcoming misconception and prejudices as well as the ways they developed to get integrated into American society. Also, the students spoke about the ways these immigrants use to help them keep connected to Arab culture and homeland.

WorkShop 2012 - Marquette University