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April is SWANA Heritage Month

The office of Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy (MICA) of the Adele H. Stamp Student Union and  a dedicated committee of students and staff is excited to announce the University of Maryland's first ever campus-wide celebration of Southwest Asian and North African (SWANA) Heritage Month in April 2024!.

Check out MICA's events below, and scroll to the calendar to see all campus events!

This first ever SWANA Heritage Month theme is twofold, asking the community to stretch, connect, feel discomfort, and see how two things can be true at once.

First, "See Us" is a demand to be seen and to matter, highlighting the ways SWANA identities have been made invisible. From census boxes to movie theaters, history books to holidays - the presence, impact, and needs of the SWANA community are often subsumed or glossed over. Why is our first heritage month in 2024?

Second, "Seeing Us" reveals the hypervisibility of SWANA suffering and villainization. In particular, for those of the SWANA diaspora who grow up watching their communities here and abroad be subjected to violence and dehumanization. To truly see us, one must see this also. Acknowledgement and visibility are needed, yes, and so are compassion and care.

De-stress and get creative with the SWANA Heritage Month Arts & Crafts Series with MICA and Studio A.

Guided Paint
April 5, 12:30pm | Studio A, STAMP

Beginner’s Henna Workshop
April 12, 12:30pm | Studio A, STAMP

Persian Dance Workshop
April 23, 5:30pm | Grand Ballroom Lounge, STAMP

Friendship Bracelet Making
April 24, 6:00pm | Studio A, STAMP

Screenprinting for the Iranian Women’s Movement
May 3, 5:00pm | Studio A, STAMP

April 15
6pm | MICA Lounge, STAMP 

Enjoy connecting with other LGBTQ members of UMD's SWANA community at our very first SWANA LGBTea Meet-Up! Tea, light refreshments, and a welcoming environment will be provided for you to see and share space with members of our community who are often made invisible. Partners are welcome to attend!

Introducing Qahwa Corner! A series of low-key chats, hangouts, and meetups that you can expect to continue throughout the year in the MICA Cozy Corner. Make connections, grab some tea or coffee, and a snack!

Qahwa Corner: SWANA x APIDA Migration Stories
April 17
6pm | MICA Cozy Corner

In collaboration with APIDA (Asian Pacific Islander and Desi American) student involvement, MICA is leading a migration stories workshop where we will discuss the experiences of our diasporic communities. More to come!

Qahwa Corner: Let’s See Each Other, a Mental Health Chat with Imam Tarif
April 25
4pm | MICA Cozy Corner

Let's talk mental health in this current moment. What does it look like to balance school, life, family, current events, etc. - but give everything the attention it deserves? Is it even possible? Tarif Shraim, UMD's Muslim Chaplain, will join us to lead the discussion.

April 18
5pm | Campus Pantry (South Campus)


Join president of the Organization of Arab Students, Carlos Chebib, and learn how to cook - Lebanon style! More information to come. Spots are limited, RSVP at

Banner reads: You're Invited to the Closing Gala & Keynote!


April 29, 6 - 8 p.m. | Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center


UMD Students, want a free lunch with Zoulfa? 
Sign up here - first come first serve!

Music, food, and more! Join MICA for the very first SWANA Heritage Month Closing Gala and Keynote. Check out our featured artists and speaker below. We can't wait to see you there!

Portrait of Zoulfa Katough posing with the book "As Long As the Lemon Trees Grow". She is a young woman in a red hijab with pointed eyeliner.

Zoulfa Katouh
Keynote Speaker

Zoulfa Katouh is a Syrian Canadian pharmacist and writer living in Zurich, Switzerland. She is the author of "As Long As the Lemon Trees Grow", a YA speculative contemporary novel. When she’s not talking to herself in the woodland forest, she spends her time baking aesthetic cookies and cakes while listening to BTS songs.

A love letter to Syria and its people, "As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow" is a speculative novel set amid the Syrian Revolution, burning with the fires of hope, love, and possibility.


Photo of Rasha Alkhateeb, young woman in hijab standing against an outdoor scene

Rasha Alkhateeb

Rasha Alkhateeb is a PhD student in Literacy Education at UMD's College of Education. Her research interests are in reflexive writing identities, or how secondary preservice and inservice teachers understand their identity as writers and teachers of writing. Rasha is a poet and loves recommending books in all genres!


Photo of a man mid-performance with a guitar, singing into a microphone

Local Musicians

Azul is a local DC band with Berber North African roots and a rich Mediterranean repertoire. With an international and multicultural repertoire, they play in different music genres and sing in multiple languages.


Photo of six women in thobes posing with a drum

Malikat Al Dabke
Dance Troupe

"The Queens of Dabke". The first all-female dabke troop in the DMV, featuring UMD alum! From the energetic footwork to the synchronized movements, each dance tells a story steeped in cultural heritage. 

If you have any questions regarding SWANA Heritage Month or how your organization can be involved, please contact me at We are looking forward to a wonderful month of programming and engagement with the community!

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