MENAA Summit celebrates culture, honors experiences

The ETHS Middle Eastern, North African and Asian Student Summit took place on March 31 as a part of the ETHS Social Consciousness Series. In keeping with the theme of the other ETHS student summits this school year, the theme for the 2022 MENAA Summit was Joy. 

What used to be called the South Asian Middle Easten Summit, has changed its name in order to reach a broader population of students at ETHS. The theme of joy, carrying across all events that are part of the Social Consciousness Series, was transformed into an event honoring and celebrating the many different cultures represented by the Middle Eastern, North African and Asian student and staff population at ETHS. 

“The vision behind this year’s MENAA Summit is to spread MENAA joy by being able to embrace and celebrate the different communities that make up this identity,” junior and planning committee member Kaia Patricia Magno said.

Among the many activities celebrating MENAA joy and culture was a fan favorite called Sippin’ and Spilling the Tea.

“Tea is a big part of most Asian Cultures,” senior Saksham Jairath, a planning committee member, explained. “So this activity is basically about bonding over tea and having good conversations.”

The activities throughout the summit were planned and facilitated by students, placing an emphasis on the diversity of cultures and traditions within the Asian community. 

This session will be about learning the history of tea and talking about current events, pop culture, and activism in the community,” Magno added.

Another activity featured board games and a karaoke machine, all meant to facilitate fun and a space to discuss identity and culture for attending students.

“I feel like it’s a really good space for someone who feels like they don’t belong yet or doesn’t know their identity yet to feel a place of belonging, and [the summit] provides a good reminder of where you come from and you can find people who are similar to you,” Jairath said.

Similarly to other summits at ETHS, the MENNA summit included a performance by a local band called Funkadesi, a “blend of Indian bhangra, Bollywood and folk with reggae, funk, and Afro-Caribbean grooves”. Half-way through the day, students and staff gathered in the Upstairs Theater to listen to the performance and join in the excitement.

At lunchtime, summit participants gathered in the Terrace to enjoy food from Pinto Thai and The Halal Guys. 

The opportunity that the MENAA summit presented to find community was echoed by those who planned and attended the event alike.

The summit was a really fun experience! The people that were in the workshop I helped facilitate all seemed to be enjoying themselves and the affinity spaces were a great way for those within the menaa identity to come together,” Magno said.