On Wednesday, March 1, Rollins’ French Club and Middle Eastern Cultural and Cuisine Association (MECCA) teamed up to create a new event ‘Le Cultural,’ a weekly convening of students interested in Middle Eastern and French affairs. Lead by French Club President Alex Mariano ’17 and MECCA President Iman Gareeboo ’17, the weekly event was inspired by seventeenth-century French social functions. “Aristocratic women would host these gatherings in their homes, welcoming artists and philosophers and poets…,” explained Mariano. Gareeboo said part of their friendship and the ideas for the event were sparked when they studied abroad in France together. “[We] learned a bit about the relationship between France and its colonies in northern Africa. Since northern Africa does not technically fall under the area of ‘the middle east’ but does have a lot of cultural take-aways due to the Arab population and Islamic religion, I thought it would be interesting to talk about how Western, Eastern, and African cultures have mixed in this part of the world,” stated Gareeboo. “…[T]here are a decent amount of francophone populations left over from colonial rule. They, just like middle easterners, face dilemmas over identity and finding the balance between tradition and modernization,” said Mariano. She hoped that, similar to the gatherings of the past, the meeting, “leads to a deeper understanding of our own lives… and of the world we’re living in…” Gareeboo agreed, looking toward, “the higher goal of broadening horizons.”
Featured at the meeting were Gareeboo’s homemade macaroons, which were “a huge draw-in for those who were tentative about coming,” according to Mariano. Pim’s and other treats complimented them nicely. The duo hope to bring fresh tea to future meetings, as well. Those that did attend shared not only delicious snacks, but delightful conversation as well. There was no set topic, possibly to keep the first meeting relaxed, which allowed the conversation to flow naturally. It soon focused on transportation, such as airport and metro system variations between countries. “From there, it became a discussion of profiling, multinational identity, and appreciating the rare TSA agents who still have their humor,” said Mariano.
Overall, everyone seemed to savor the cookies, chuckles, and conversation. Mariano reflected, “I enjoyed it a lot. It definitely gave me a chance to connect with different students on campus in a new, more in-depth way.” “Granted, going into the next meeting, I will plan to have a lot more advertising for the next one after spring break,” remarked Gareeboo, “but the people who were there did seem very receptive to the concept of ‘le salon.’”
Through this collaboration, both presidents also hope to foster interest in French Club and MECCA, as well as the respective cultures.
Any interested student is encouraged to stop by Chase Hall’s Think Tank on Wednesday’s at 12 p.m. to enjoy tea and treats while cultivating a better understanding of francophone countries and the Middle East, as well as our own nation.