Understanding and Appreciating the Middle East Day held on May 9

On May 9, 2019, students of the Middle East, Asia, Latin America class hosted Understanding and Appreciating the Middle East Day; the purpose was to share aspects of Middle Eastern culture and current events. Stated organizers, "By representing the Middle East’s complex narratives, the day aims to expose the Newton North community to this region of the world, dispel stereotypes, and foster well-informed discussion." Here is an overview of the program. 


A Block: Women's Equality and the Israeli Military: The Case of Alice Miller, Dr. Shayna Weiss (Auditorium)


Dr. Weiss taught at the U.S. Naval Academy and is now the associate director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University. She is currently writing a book about gender segregation in Israel. In this block, Weiss will speak about the case of Alice Miller, who in 1993 tried to apply to a pilot training course. The Israel Defense Forces refused her request, but the Israeli Supreme Court later overruled the army’s decision. Weiss will discuss both what the Alice Miller case tells us about gender and equality in Israel and if the military is the best way to fight for women's rights.


B Block (long): Student Panel (Auditorium)


This panel will feature current Newton North students who identify as being from the Middle East. Students will share how their Middle Eastern background influences their daily lives, including family, school, social, cultural, and/or religious life. Audience Q&A will follow the facilitated panel discussion.


C Block: Media Coverage of the Middle East, Stefano Kotsonis (Auditorium)


Stefano Kotsonis is the producer of WBUR's OnPoint and was previously CNN’s Amman (Jordan) bureau chief and correspondent. He will speak and answer questions about his experiences covering different parts of the Middle East, including the Gulf War, the Kurdish refugee crisis, and the Middle East peace process.


D Block:During 3rd lunch, students can enjoy food on Main Street, donated by a variety of local Middle Eastern restaurants (no signup necessary)


E Block (long): Syrian Refugee Crisis Panel (Auditorium)


The following speakers will be part of a facilitated panel discussion about the Syrian refugee crisis and actions that Newton community members have taken, followed by Q&A. 


  • Avshin Hamza (a teenage refugee from Syria who moved with her family to the US)
  • Rachel Miller (who hosted Avshin's family)
  • Leslie Meral Schick (who frequently travels to Greece to help refugees) 
  • Natasha Sharma (NNHS senior who volunteers for NuDay Syria, an organization which provides humanitarian relief)