Last week, Brandeis culture clubs and academic groups hosted a series of events as part of Brandeis’ “I am Global Week,” an offshoot of the U.S. State Department-sponsored International Education Week. According to Brandeis’ website, “I Am Global Week” seeks to “highlight and celebrate global efforts and achievements across campus, promote integration between domestic and international students and scholars, and showcase our global community.”

The week started off on Saturday, Nov. 13 with the South Asian Student Association’s annual MELA show, which celebrated the eight countries of South Asia –– Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Nepal,Sri Lanka and the Maldives –– through music, dancing, student artwork and comedic interludes from the emcees. The theme of this year was “Saktiya: Strength in Unity,” a theme which the event coordinators observed as holding particular relevance this semester, with Brandeis returning to campus life. There were fusion style dances from each class year as well as from dance clubs and one classical solo performance. Similarly, the music was a mixture of classical and contemporary fusion styles, including an a cappella guest performance from Boston University. Original student artwork was on display during the show’s intermission. Some works were for sale, with proceeds going to the Afghanistan for Women charity.

The week continued with various academic events. Brandeis held a number of lectures, including one by University of Maryland Assistant Professor Shay Hazani on Thursday, Nov. 18 about his recently published work: “Dear Palestine: A Social History of the 1948 War.” According to Hazani, the book reveals the perspectives of Jewish and Arab soldiers by analyzing a “treasure trove” of personal letters and official propaganda. Ultimately, Hazani said, thousands of Jews and Arabs would join the fight, known in Israel as the war of independence and in the Arab world as a component of “Nakba,” which translates to “catastrophe” in Arabic.

Hazani explained that the book divides these letters and propaganda material chronologically into five sections: Mobilization, Indoctrination, First Impressions, Violence and Reflection. Hazani wrote about the Israeli government’s difficulty in enlisting Jewish soldiers due to traditional Jewish pacifist teachings and the reluctance of Holocaust survivors to engage in violence. Hazani explained that one of the reasons for the Israeli war was to avoid another Holocaust under the argument that the Arab world held genocidal sentiments toward the Jewish population. This claim came from radical Arab League speeches calling for Arabs to “destroy the landmarks of Zionism and eliminate it altogether…to reaffirm the Arabness of Palestine.” Due to their military weakness relative to Israel, Palestinians relied heavily on outside support from the Arab League, Hazani said, which sought enlistment mainly by appealing to a common Arab identity. 

Jewish promotion of the war worked to create a sense of vicious antagonism toward the enemy out of the concern that recruits “would be overly influenced by the Jewish tradition that rules out crude hatred,” Hazani said. This antagonism took form in events like the massacre of Palestinian village Dayr Yassin, despite their declared neutrality in the conflict.

However, other soldiers found themselves disenchanted by the war. According to Hazani, over 70% of Morrocan Jewish soldiers, participating in the war to go beyond their Dhimmi low class status, wanted to return to Morocco to escape racial discrimination. Hazani referenced letters from Moroccan soldiers which complained that the European Jewish population looked down on Moroccans as “savages or unwelcomed elements.” 

Under “Reflection,” Hazani noted that upper-class Palestinians were the last to realize the severity of the Nakba. According to Hazani, one Palestinian wrote a letter to a friend saying that the UN would be able to challenge the Israel takeover and recognize Palestine statehood. This would turn out to be a näive viewpoint, considering that the UN would not approve a Palestinian delegation until 1974, and then only grant the observer status. 

There were also a series of events throughout the week centered around global food.

On Tuesday, Nov. 16, the International Student Scholars Office and the Global Fellows held “International Candy Tasting” in Fellow’s Garden. Students could sample sweets from all over the world, and then use a pushpin to show their hometown on a giant world map. 

The International Student Scholars Office hosted the annual Global Bazaar event on Thursday, Nov. 18 in the Shapiro Science Center, bringing together “student clubs, organizations, academic departments, local restaurants and artisans,” according to the “I Am Global” website. Each group was given a table to showcase food, host activities like calligraphy or provide information on Study Abroad opportunities. 

Also on Thursday was Rice Night, hosted by the Vietnamese Students Association in the Levin Ballroom. They were joined by the South Asian Students Association, the Taiwanese Students Association, the Japanese Students Association, the Brandeis Asian American Students Association and the Southeast Asian Club. 

The Southeast Asian Club held the final event of the week, which celebrated the annual Thai festival Loy Krathong. Participants enjoyed Thai food while celebrating this festival by creating flower boats (Krathong), and floating them in a small pool in place of the traditional river. 

Other events during this week included promotions for Brandeis study abroad programs, events celebrating the diversity of language at Brandeis and a series of job search workshops for international jobs and international students.