The Arab American Summit From An Outsider’s Perspective

November 18, 2015

Going to the Arab American Summit was an incredible experience that I definitely won’t forget. It allowed me to meet other civic-minded youth and Arab American leaders from across the country that aspire to impact their communities in some way. As part of the youth track, we had several workshops, one of those being a media literacy workshop that I particularly enjoyed. In this session, we decomposed and interpreted product advertisements, discussed how we are influenced by the society we live in, and conversed about the way individuals assimilate into specific environments. An example used was Aladdin, a Walt Disney animated classic. In specific clips of the movie, we saw several examples of the oppression of women, negatively orientalist depictions of the Middle East, and the influence of Western culture on the region . What stood out to me the most was the influence of Western culture and how in the animation, Aladdin was referred to as “Al.” I expanded on this idea during a group discussion the youth had at the Arab American National Museum, sharing my thoughts and realizations throughout the past few years. Most of the other youth joined in on this conversation, sharing their personal experiences about how individuals in their school tend to completely mispronounce and even call them other names that were more familiar to them – western names that sound similar to their “foreign” names. It was great to listen to the perspectives of others and to get a better understanding of how they feel when incidents like this happen to them. Overall, this was an opportunity for greater understanding of the experiences of Arabs and Arab Americans, a group that I don’t personally belong to, but am deeply interested in learning more about.


Isabella Arroyo

Youth Fellow