District hosts first Middle Eastern North African Summit

On Wednesday, March 15th, Niles North students attended a Middle Eastern North African (MENA) Student Summit at Niles West. D219 has hosted different kinds of summits in the past, but this is the first time a summit occurred for MENA specifically. 

The summit was open to all D219 students interested, but was primarily targeted for Middle Easterners and North African students to have an open and welcoming space to talk about their identities, experiences, and culture.  

The summit took place during the school day periods 1 through 9. Students were provided transportation to West on a bus. 

It had many events to participate and engage in. Among arrival, there was an opening session with speakers including club leaders and school administrators, as well as a MENA Family Feud, and presentations on MENA student priorities in the district. 

Following the opening session was a fashion show which featured many different cultural clothes and garments.  

“It was pretty fun. I liked seeing all the middle eastern North African cultures and everyone’s culture clothing,” senior Crystal Patto said. “And I loved the little after party in the field house, and listening to the music and dancing.”

The Summit also included discussions like an Open Mic session, and panel discussion that allowed students to hear stories about the complexities of identities and stories that “shape” the MENA community. 

Lunch from Libanis Restaurant, a restaurant that is known for Middle Eastern cuisine, was served at the event. 

After lunch, a workshop was open to students called the “Media Misrepresentations of MENA Identities” which portrays how the media can misrepresent the experiences of MENA people. 

The summit ended with a celebration in the fieldhouse, which featured many culture performances from singers and entertainers. There was a lot of dancing and gave students a chance to conversate with each other. 

This was District 219’s first Middle Eastern North African summit, but looking in the future, hopefully it will not be the last.