Arab American Heritage Month
NCSD Celebrates Arab-American Heritage
During the month of April, the North Clackamas School District celebrates Arab American Heritage Month.
Arab America and the Arab America Foundation launched the National Arab American Heritage Month initiative in 2017.
In 2021, former Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed House Bill 2914 into law, which declared April of each year as Arab American Heritage Month. Oregon was just the second state at the time to do so.
On March 31, 2023, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation recognizing National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM).
Across the country, cultural institutions, school districts, municipalities, state legislatures, public servants, and non-profit organizations engage in special events that celebrate the community’s rich heritage and numerous contributions to society.
Recognizing Arab-American Staff Members
In recognition of Arab-American Heritage Month, we wanted to hear from NCSD employees who are members of the Arab-American community.
Fida Hurlock - Ardenwald Elementary
Nabil Zerizef - Principal at Linwood & Sojourner Elementary
How does it make you feel that our NCSD School Board has formally recognized April's Arab American Heritage Month?
I appreciate the board for taking this step and formally recognizing Arab American Heritage. Arabs are a diverse group of people with a rich history of contributions that have spanned centuries and are so embedded in our everyday lives that many may not even attribute to the Arab world. For example our modern numbers, algebra and architecture. It's important that we take time to appreciate the historical and continued impact of the innovation, creativity and culture that has helped shape the world around us. Sadly, Arab Americans are often an overlooked group when it comes to demographic representation and to have the board formally recognize us means a lot. If you look at most demographic surveys (including the census) it is very rare to see Arabs as an option for ethnicity. My hope is that this will lead to more opportunities for Arab Americans to be able to feel seen and be better understood as a people.
Has your Arab American heritage helped shape you as a school administrator?
As an Arab American administrator I feel like I am able to understand the lived experience of families who have immigrated to the United States (from Arab nations or otherwise) and have an appreciation for the value those families bring. I see the assets of diversity and work to support families who may traditionally feel like an outsider. Community and belonging are things that I focus a lot on in my work and I may not see it in a similar way if it were not for my own lived experience as an Arab American.
Were there other Arab Americans you looked up to as a kid?
There were a handful of Arab Americans who I looked up to as a kid, but many of them are not widely known. I grew up in a time of extreme turmoil in the Middle East and a time where American society was not as accepting of Arabs in general. I looked up to Arab Americans who showed that it is okay to be proud of my heritage and who stood up for the rights of all.
What makes you most proud to be Arab American?
I am proud of the long rich history of innovation and creativity of the Arab world. I'm also proud of the language, culture and stories that have shaped our people and lasted over time. Additionally, I'm proud of how diverse Arab Americans are. We all look different, sound different and see the world differently. We can't all be defined in one specific way because of the unique history of the area.