Activism Around Every Corner | The Washington Center

Activism Around Every Corner

This past weekend, the Syrian Cultural House and Mozaic hosted an event called the "Flavors of Syria" at The National City Christian Church. The idea behind the event was to raise awareness about Syrian culture, music, art, cuisine, and fashion.


At first, I had no idea this event was happening, or that I would have the lucky chance to stumble upon it on a Saturday morning. None of this was predetermined. It was all just based on mere coincidence. You may be thinking mere coincidence? But, how?


I intern at the National Immigration Law Center, an organization which aims to promote and defend the rights of low-income immigrants and marginalized minorities. The "Flavors of Syria" event (which also aims to defend the rights of marginalized minorities, such as Syrians) happened to be taking place a 3-minute walk from where my organization is located.


From my internship office, I could make out the heads of all of the people compressed together in front of the temple. If I craned my neck further, I could even make out the sharp green and black hues of the Syrian flag, as well as the flaming pentagonal red stars peeking in from the bold white center.


I remember looking at the great spectacle from afar and thinking, this is my call. It's being done for a cause that I care about and, while it affects me indirectly, still affects me. This is it. I'm going to go for it. I am going to stand in solidarity with all of these amazing people who are no different from anyone else, yet are marginalized by society.


So, I ended up walking to the church.


As I got closer, I could see many of the participants, each a different color and nationality, arms intertwined, participating in a traditional Arab folk dance, known as dabke. They were going around in a circle, tapping their feet to the rhythm supplied by the musical tune emanating from the loudspeaker.


I could make out instruments like the oud, violin, and riq from the tune that added to the holistic harmony of the piece and made my heart race in excitement. I then stayed rooted in one position and watched in awe as two men proceeded to beat drums with their bare hands and walked up and down the street. There were such friendly vibes radiating from the people at the church that I could not force myself to leave. I wanted to continue to bask in its sublime aura.


But time went by and eventually, I was able to recover from this state of awe and make my way towards seeing the vendors at the event who were selling interesting stuff for the occasion. One woman was selling beautiful aqua-colored jewelry while another was selling quilts with intricately woven designs etched on them. While all of these items were lovely, I found myself gravitating towards a pastry shop owner who was selling baklava.


With not even the slightest moment of hesitation, I proceeded to take out my credit card and hand it over to the vendor. It's baklava. Here's a Poonam syllogism: Poonam loves indulging in sweet treats. Baklava happens to be a sweet treat, therefore, Poonam loves indulging in baklava. Like Oscar Wilde once said, there's nothing wrong with yielding to temptation. And, so I yielded. Just for that one time, anyways.



I am really grateful that I took advantage of an opportunity to attend such an amazing event. It reminds me of my earlier blog post on nonviolent action. Arranging special events like these for the sake of promoting a good cause is just one of the many ways people can assemble together to demonstrate their solidarity.


Read Poonam's previous blog posts

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