In April, BUSD celebrates Arab American & South West Asian North African (SWANA) Heritage Month, lifting up and honoring the contributions of Arab Americans and South West Asian North African (SWANA) Americans in our school community, our extended communities, and our country. BUSD’s Ethnic Studies Department provides family guides (found below), in English, Spanish, and Arabic, that encourage us to Listen, Learn, and Lift Up the experiences, histories, and the culture of Arab Americans and SWANA Americans in our community.
Arab American & South West Asian North African (SWANA) Heritage Month
Dear Berkeley Unified Community,
Last year, BUSD joined several local and regional school districts and our neighbor, UC Berkeley, in honoring Arab American Heritage Month for the first time. In an effort to uplift a growing part of our community and move toward inclusivity and evolving concepts of language and community, this year we are adding SWANA, which is an acronym that stands for South West Asian North African.
National Arab American Heritage Month was recognized in April 2021 by President Biden and was launched as an initiative by the Arab American Foundation in 2017. Our district joins the country in recognizing, affirming, and celebrating the many historical and ongoing contributions of the Arab American and SWANA communities both here in Berkeley and beyond– both this month and every month.
The TK-8th Grade Teaching Resource Guide is a compilation of resources that our educators can incorporate into units and lessons throughout the year. The Family Guide is a set of resources that families can explore both now and in the future.
As part of Berkeley Unified School District’s values and beliefs, “We take pride in our diversity.” We recognize that the communities that fall under the Arab American and SWANA umbrella are richly diverse and unique: from country of origin, language, and religion– to history, culture, and lived experiences. While not all Arab and SWANA countries may be specifically represented in this set of resources, they were created in the spirit of taking great pride in our diverse community and adapting to meet the ever changing needs of our students and families.
We know that there are many examples of how students, staff, school sites and school communities in BUSD are uplifting the achievements and heritage of Arab American and SWANA heritage peoples all year and especially during the month of April.
This year we want to especially uplift one of the linked resources, the Youth Guide created by Arab American youth leaders, which centers student voices and experiences around racism, the rich diversity of the heritages and cultures of Arab Americans & SWANA peoples, as well as the histories and narratives of immigration and resilience.
Peace be upon you.
Enikia Ford Morthel
These reading lists, organized by grade level, represent books published in the last five years that are devoted to celebrating, representing, and affirming Arab American and SWANA heritage, and celebrating the invaluable contributions of our Arab American and SWANA community. Every school library will receive copies of some of the newest books on the lists.
Lifting Up Arab American and SWANA Staff Voices
In celebration of our Arab American and SWANA community, this year BUSD has introduced “Lifting Up Arab American and SWANA Staff Voices,” a campaign to share our Arab American and SWANA staff’s narratives with our students and community by creating posters featuring their stories and experiences. These posters will be displayed at schools, work sites, on the BUSD website, and in district publications. Sharing these narratives with our students will allow them to deepen connections with Arab American and SWANA staff across the district.
Please click on each image to see a full-sized poster.