At the last minute, I was invited by my friend to attend the Arabic Flagship Program’s annual talent show. I went to take a break from studying, and was so happy that I did! My friend was actually this year’s host, and I was glad to be able to be there to support her and the other flagship program members that put on this great show.
The event was catered by the local Lebanese restaurant Sisters, which my friend informed me provided more than enough food each year. Sure enough, there was so much food left over at the end of the show that the hosts were begging guests to take some home. The pita, hummus, and baba ganoush were amazing, but the highlight of the show was the entertainment. Various student organizations and Arabic classes at OU created pieces for the talent show, giving us an entertaining array of videos and live performances. As someone who knows virtually nothing about the Arabic language, I found the talent show both fun and very informative.
The first act was a video created by the OU Belly Dance Club and the OU Film Club. I thought it was great that these two organizations teamed up to contribute to the talent show. The video consisted of a brief instructional segment demonstrating a few moves, and then a traditional dance by members of the Belly Dance Club. Next, there was a poem reading by a member of the flagship program. She read the poem “Who Am I” in both its original Arabic and in English, for the audience members not fluent in Arabic.
My personal favorite act (and the one that got the most laughs) was an advanced Arabic class’s take on the infamous “Panda Cheese” commercials that aired several years ago in Egypt. I remembered seeing these ads on Facebook, so I understood the reference. Essentially, in each commercial skit, someone asks for “Panda” brand cheese, and upon being told there is none a panda appears and destroys everything in its path. The talent show skit, done in Arabic, had the same premise but took place at different locations on campus.
Other acts included the singing of a lovely song by one of the colloquial Arabic classes, and a recorded telling of a Moroccan folktale by the Moroccan Dialect Club (thankfully, they provided English subtitles). One member of the flagship program also presented some stunning Arabic calligraphy poems. These poems were composed of Arabic words in shapes that illustrated the subject matter of each poem. The three pieces she showed were stunning and creative, ranging from words in the shape of each fruit in a bowl of fruit to a depiction of the sun and moon.
I loved being able to both see and hear Arabic, as I had so little previous exposure to this beautiful language. I began to understand why my friend was so in love with her Arabic major, and was impressed by her proficiency in a language so unlike our own in both alphabet and pronunciation. The talent show made for a lovely and educational evening—I’ll certainly be looking out for it next year!