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ABOUT THIS GUIDE Welcome to the Middle Eastern and South Asian (ME/SA) Cultural Guide. Within these pages, you will find information about academics, student resources, student organizations and activities particularly relevant for those students who identify as Southwest Asian, North African, Middle Eastern and/or South Asian. Known as ME/SA, these communities are positioned together at UC Davis in acknowledgment of how much they share historically, geographically, spiritually and culturally. It is our hope that this guide will help you make the most of your college experience and find your home away from home. Together, we are ME/SA.

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Welcome Letters Student Life Things To Do Meet Current Students Campus Resources Middle East/South Asia Studies Faculty and Staff Thank You


Jinni Pradhan, Ph.D.

Middle Eastern and South Asian Student Affairs Officer Division of Student Affairs 2406 Student Community Center

Welcome, Aggie! As the student affairs officer for the Middle Eastern and South Asian (ME/SA) community, and a UC Davis alum myself, I am thrilled you will be joining us on your journey! ME/SA at UC Davis is not only about building a community that supports and empowers you but also honoring you and your story. For you to find success and fulfillment here, we understand the campus must value all your cultures, identities and experiences. When you are recognized as a whole, unique person, the new adventures and challenges you encounter only strengthen you and our UC Davis community. There are a number of opportunities for you to get involved with ME/SA on campus. Many of our larger events—ME/SA Community Retreat, ME/SA Community Week and ME/SA Graduation Celebration, among others—are student driven. By getting involved and sharing your voice, you can help create meaningful spaces for everyone and connect with other like-minded students at the same time. While you are here, please do not hesitate to reach out and talk to me. Whether it is for academic support, finding leadership opportunities, guidance for internships/jobs/graduate school or community building, I am here for you. Our campus and its resources are vast, but I can point you in the right direction—like a campus GPS. I cannot wait to meet and get to know you!

Milton Lang, Ed.D.

Associate Vice Chancellor Student Life, Campus Community and Retention Services Division of Student Affairs

As the associate vice chancellor for Student Life, Campus Community and Retention Services, I am happy to support you during your undergraduate experience in achieving your higher education goals and career aspirations. UC Davis is dedicated to creating supportive structures that will serve you in your journey toward intellectual and collective success, and we look forward to working with you to do exactly that. Within The Middle Eastern and South Asian Cultural Guide, you will find information regarding great opportunities that you can be engaged in while on campus to help you stay connected to your cultural community. Your options to get involved and create new experiences don’t stop there. You will also find many opportunities to do research in your field, learn to express yourself in the creative arts or take part in programs or a campus leadership positions that you feel will enhance your curricular and co-curricular experience. Here at UC Davis, you will find faculty, staff and students who are deeply invested in your success, personal development and overall involvement. Utilize us as you navigate through your journey, and always know that we stand ready to support you in ways that will maximize your UC Davis educational experience. I wish you well in your journey, and please let us know how we can assist you in taking full advantage of your undergraduate experience. Good luck and welcome to our Aggie family!


Annual Programs and Events Asian Pacific Islander (API) and ME/SA Fall Welcome This is an opportunity to connect with all the API and ME/SA student organizations and clubs on campus before classes start and become acquainted with returning students, faculty and staff from these communities.

Muslim Student Association Eid Banquet (Fall Quarter) The Muslim Student Association (MSA) at UC Davis holds an annual Eid Banquet at the beginning of fall quarter to create a space for students to celebrate Eid among their peers, and it also teaches the larger Davis community about the importance of the holiday.

STUDENT LIFE At UC Davis, students are able to find a balance between academic and personal interests by getting involved in different athletic, social networking and community service outreach clubs. By becoming involved, you can foster relations and memories with peers.


ME/SA Community Retreat (Winter Quarter) Students organize programs and events that celebrate, explore and create awareness of Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian communities and their diasporas.

ME/SA Chai Chats (bi-weekly) Engage in meaningful conversations on topics that affect the Middle Eastern and South Asian communities, and take a break from the busy quarter over a warm cup of chai and snacks.

Kirtan Nights The Sikh Cultural Association created Kirtan Nights, open to members of all communities, as a space for community worship followed by a community meal.

Spring Quarter Cultural Banquets Every spring quarter, many of the ME/SA-identified organizations—including but not limited to the Afghan Student Association, Arab Student Union, Indian Student Association and Pakistani Student Association—hold cultural banquets that highlight the beauty, diversity and richness of their cultures. These banquets include traditional food, entertainment, fashion shows and more.

ME/SA Community Graduation Celebration This graduation celebration celebrates family and loved ones. Without their support, the accomplishments of students would not be possible. This graduation is culturally relevant, intimate and for both ME/SA academic program graduates and students of Middle Eastern and South Asian heritage graduating from other programs and majors.

Student Organizations Afghan Student Association

Epsilon Alpha Sigma, Arab Sorority The Afghan Student Association (ASA) promotes awareness of issues relating to Afghanistan to UC Davis and the surrounding communities. ASA’s mission includes promoting peace and tolerance through understanding of Afghan religion, culture and politics. Epsilon Alpha Sigma unites its members in a sisterhood based on sincere and lasting friendship. It celebrates the importance of heritage, the diversity of the Arab world and the strength and accomplishments of Arab women.

Arab Student Union The Arab Student Union unites and serves the Arab community on campus, while educating the UC Davis student body about Arab culture.

Armenian Student Association The Armenian Student Association cultivates appreciation of Armenian history, heritage and culture through historical and political awareness and social and recreational events.

Bhagat Puran Singh Health Initiative Bhagat Puran Singh Health Initiative provides basic healthcare screenings and general health and nutrition advice to underserved and neglected communities.

Imani Clinic Imani Clinic is a student-run clinic started by UC Davis students in 1994 to deliver episodic primary care to the underserved and multicultural population in the Oak Park community of South Sacramento. Undergraduates have the opportunity to volunteer in a number of positions and earn workload units.

Indian Student Association The Indian Student Association unites Indians and those interested in Indian culture. It aims to bring the UC Davis community closer through social events for cultural awareness and fundraisers for the underprivileged community.

Iranian Student Cultural and Aesthetic Organization The Iranian Student Cultural and Aesthetic Organization works to create a united Persian community, both on and off the UC Davis campus. It seeks to educate the community about the Persian culture, its practices and its illustrious history.

Jakara Movement Club The Jakara Movement seeks to encourage engagement with Sikh culture through education, research and community outreach initiatives. This is the first official collegiate chapter of the Jakara Movement.

Jhankaar Jhankaar is a competitive South Asian a cappella team that aims to promote rhythmic unity among Bollywood, Middle Eastern, Pakistani and Western music. It blends the influences of these powerful styles and unites people from different backgrounds through music.


Lashkara Lashkara at UC Davis is a competitive Hindi film dance team. The unique dance styles include Bollywood, folk, fusion, hip-hop, bhangra and many other forms. In addition to competing, Lashkara also holds performances on campus and in the Sacramento area.

Lebanese Cultural Society Lebanese Cultural Society is a club that aims to promote the Lebanese culture and heritage, educate the student body, unite the Lebanese and Mediterranean community with others, increase student diversity and develop leadership and communication skills.

Middle Eastern and South Asian Law Student Association The Middle Eastern and South Asian Law Student Association (MESALSA) provides outreach and retention services to incoming and first-year law students and promotes community involvement. MESALSA provides students with opportunities to network with various Middle Eastern and South Asian associations throughout the country, build professional relationships and get involved in pro bono work with practicing attorneys. It also hosts social events and cultural celebrations throughout the year.


Middle Eastern/South Asian Medical Student Association The Middle Eastern/South Asian Medical Student Association celebrates the diversity of the UC Davis School of Medicine student population. It seeks to increase both awareness of Middle Eastern and South Asian culture and cultural competency by hosting holiday celebrations, commemorating traditions and exploring issues relevant to the care of Middle Eastern and South Asian patients. It seeks to establish an environment that promotes cross-cultural communication between medical students and their future patients.

Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students The Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students is designed to help minority pre-medical students matriculate into health professions schools. We are committed to supporting future underrepresented and minority health professions students, addressing the needs of underserved communities and increasing the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent and socially conscious physicians.

Muslim Student Association The Muslim Student Association strives to create an avenue for Muslim students to meet, exchange ideas, debunk misconceptions and work to understand and share the true message of Islam in accordance with the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad.

Pakistani Student Association

Students for Justice in Palestine The Pakistani Student Association is dedicated to providing a welcoming community for Pakistani students on campus, through general meetings, quarterly events and the annual banquet. It also serves as a humanitarian organization that strives to support the people of Pakistan, financially and through communication. Students for Justice in Palestine is a diverse group of students, faculty, staff and community members organized on democratic principles to promote justice, human rights, liberation and self-determination for the Palestinian people.

Permias at UC Davis Permias at UC Davis offers social and academic support to the Indonesian student community on campus. It is also affiliated with the San Francisco Bay Area Indonesian community.

Shifa Community Clinic Shifa Community Clinic is a nonprofit, student-run medical facility serving the diverse, medically uninsured population of the greater Sacramento area. Every Sunday, the clinic provides both basic and specialized medical services to patients of all ethnicities and backgrounds, free of charge. It also functions as a teaching center for medical students and undergraduate volunteers.

Sikh Cultural Association The Sikh Cultural Association upholds the ideals of Sikhism as well as the cultural aspects of Punjab. It hosts programs and events to celebrate Punjab’s culture and religion.

Sunatya Sunatya is a competitive Bharatanatyam dance team. In addition to participating in competitions, Sunatya performs in many events and venues and hosts an intercollegiate showcase of Indian classical dance.

Turkish Student Association The Turkish Student Association seeks to form a closer bond between UC Davis students and staff, promote Turkish culture, art and history, and guide and mentor new Turkish students and staff.

Visions Visions supports educational initiatives for disadvantaged and impoverished youth. In addition to running student leadership programs, it supports teacher trainings, youth scholarships and local non-governmental organization development.


On Campus Join in on Picnic Day Picnic Day celebrates students’ diversity and a healthy campus climate with over 200 exhibits and marquee events, such as the Doxie Derby and the Chemistry Magic Show.

Check Out the Experimental College The Experimental College provides an outlet for individuals to share their interests and learn skills in an informal setting by offering courses in dance, martial arts, yoga and movement, holistic health, music, language and more.

Check Out Sporting Events

THINGS TO DO The campus and city of Davis offer a wide range of attractions. Everyone is welcome to explore the UC Davis Arboretum, view performances at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, visit museums and enjoy the many shops in downtown Davis.

6 UC Davis is home to the Aggie Pack, the largest student spirit organization in the nation. Aggie Pack is definitely an experience with the potential to meet new people.

Exercise at the ARC! The Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) is the campus gym. It holds tons of high-quality workout equipment, such as an indoor rock-climbing wall, track and basketball/volleyball courts. The ARC also offers yoga classes, Zumba and kickboxing.

Explore the Arboretum The UC Davis Arboretum has over 100 acres of beautiful gardens for active recreation or peaceful contemplation. Visitors can learn about sustainable gardening for the Central Valley through documented plant collections, exhibits and demonstration plantings.

Explore Campus Museums C.N. GORMAN MUSEUM The C.N. Gorman Museum is dedicated to the creative expressions of Native American artists. The museum is also open to artists from different backgrounds but emphasizes Native American art.

JAN SHREM AND MARIA MANETTI SHREM MUSEUM OF ART Grounded in the legacy of UC Davis’ world-renowned first-generation art faculty, the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art is dedicated to impactful education. The museum serves as a hub of creative practice for today’s thinkers, makers and innovators, now and for generations to come.

BOHART MUSEUM OF ENTOMOLOGY The Bohart Museum of Entomology is dedicated to the teaching, research and service of terrestrial arthropod diversity. The museum has the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and it is worldwide in coverage. The collection holdings total more than 7 million specimens of terrestrial and freshwater arthropods.

ASUCD Coffee House (CoHo) The largest restaurant in all of Yolo County, the CoHo serves 7,000 customers daily on campus (now with Halal chicken options). Always full of students, it’s a great place to grab some food and study or catch up with friends.

Off Campus Dining Ali Baba (Halal lamb) 220 Third Street Davis Sushi Buffet 707 Second Street El Rapido Grill (Halal) Outside the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) Fusion (Halal) Outside the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts Kathmandu Kitchen 234 G Street Pho King 4 223 Third Street Sam’s Restaurant Mediterranean Cuisine (Halal) 301 B Street (cash only) Shah’s Halal Food Truck On campus near the Silo Union or Hutchison Hall Yeti Restaurant 234 E Street

Shopping Davis Commons 500 First Street E Street Plaza 207 F Street

International Food Market (Halal) 1760 E. Eighth Street Target Shopping Center 4601 Second Street

Islamic Center of Davis 539 Russell Boulevard

University Mall 825 Russell Boulevard

Laxmi Narayan Temple Sacramento

Regional, Community and Professional Organizations

Nepalis and Friends Cultural Association (NAFCA)

Arab Cultural and Community Center, San Francisco Assyrian Aid Society of America, Sacramento Bhagat Puran Singh Health Initiative (student-run health clinic) Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Sacramento

Punjabi-American Cultural Association, Fairfield SALAM Islamic Center, Sacramento Shambhala Meditation Center Shifa Clinic (student-run health clinic) South Asian Professional Association of San Francisco

Gujarati Cultural Association Gurdwara Sahib, West Sacramento India Association of Davis





Third Year Major: Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior Hometown: Concord, California

Fourth Year Major: Sociology Hometown: San Francisco Bay Area

What do you enjoy about UC Davis?

What campus resources have you taken advantage of?

I enjoy being part of the community here. There’s a diverse range of students, some who share the same background, ambitions and principles as mine and some who fall on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, but we get along nonetheless. I’m proud to be part of a student community that is quick to stand for justice and is at the forefront of social matters.


I practically live at the Student Community Center. The resources and mentorship places like the Cross Cultural Center, Women’s Resources and Research Center and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual Resource Center have given to me have been integral to my survival and success at UC Davis. Through the community resource and retention centers, I found my passion for social justice, education and student affairs.



Third Year Major: Native American Studies Hometown: San Jose, California

Fourth Year Major: International Relations Hometown: San Ramon, California

What advice would you give to other UC Davis students?

How do you balance academics and community involvement?

Moving through the institution of UC Davis is incredibly challenging and complex, so it is very important to find community. Whether it is a close group of friends or classmates, an academic department, a club or organization and/or a community resource and retention center, there are many spaces across campus that support students in a variety of ways. I encourage folks to be brave and try out various spaces with an open mind and heart and to express your passions within your exploration. Finding space and/or a sense of family sometimes comes in the most unexpected of ways. All that is needed is a willingness to listen, be challenged and grow.

It took a while to figure out how to balance extracurriculars and academics, but once I found the activities I was most passionate about and classes that helped me understand my community, the two things became complementary. I don’t feel as if I have to find a way to divide my time between the two; the things I learn (or don’t learn) in class can be applied to the work I do, from which I gain practical knowledge that, in turn, solidifies my understanding of the classwork.





Fourth Year Major: Economics and International Relations Hometown: Fremont, California

Third Year Major: Computer Science Hometown: Hayward, California

How have you been involved on campus?

What do you enjoy about UC Davis?

I have been involved in the ME/SA community since my first year. During my second year at UC Davis, I was on the Muslim Student Association board as well as Club Finance Council and the Academic Affairs Commission in ASUCD. During my junior year, I served as the president of the Pakistani Student Association. I have also worked at the Cross Cultural Center for two years, and I am currently serving as the Middle Eastern/South Asian campus climate coordinator.

Since coming to UC Davis, I have enjoyed taking advantage of the several opportunities of community involvement offered to UC Davis students. Upon entry, I was immediately welcomed by the different cultural clubs, and it was a little weird at first, because I identified as Afghan-American and wanted to only take part in my own cultural club. However, because of how welcoming and kind members of other ethnic communities were toward me, they gave me a chance to learn about different cultures and helped me become a more well-rounded person.



Second Year Major: Aerospace Engineering Hometown: Folsom, California

Third Year Major: Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Hometown: Santa Clarita, California

What campus resources have you taken advantage of?

How have you been involved on campus?

I commute from home, so I spend all day in Shields Library. The individual cubicles are great for powering through homework assignments, while the larger tables are great for completing group projects or study sessions. Also, the Student Community Center is a valuable place for me as a commuting Muslim, as I can complete my prayers in the Reflection Room without having to leave campus.

I have been going to ME/SA events since my freshman year, and I try to be involved by going to events hosted by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual Resource Center. I am very involved in activist circles, and I love being a part of protests. I am also a part of Asian and PaciďŹ c Islander Queers (APIQ), a club where I have found a beautiful sense of community.


Academic Advising Center

Cross Cultural Center advising_center.asp Peer advisors and tutors in the Academic Advising Center provide convenient, personalized academic support for every residence hall student. Born out of student activism and political struggle the Cross Cultural Center (CCC) offers a culturally relevant community space where student voices can be expressed and respected. The CCC cultivates critical consciousness and cultural competency by providing learning opportunities at the crossroads of the many aspects of our identities and experiences.

AB540 and Undocumented Student Center

CAMPUS RESOURCES UC Davis offers multiple academic, social and community-building programs for students, which support students’ academic success and enrich their university experience. Internships and job opportunities are available in on-campus community resource and retention centers, such as the Cross Cultural Center, Student Recruitment and Retention Center and within the Department of Middle East/South Asia (ME/SA) Studies. Each center on campus provides various support systems ready to help you!

12 The AB540 and Undocumented Student Center empowers students to attain their educational goals, overcome legal and financial obstacles and achieve their long-term dreams. IMMIGRATION LAW CLINIC Students at the Immigration Law Clinic interview clients and witnesses, conduct factual investigations and represent immigrants at immigration court hearings.

Campus Recreation and Unions From aquatics to sport clubs, Campus Recreation and Unions offers a variety of programs, services and facilities to help you enjoy recreation and maintain a balanced lifestyle. The Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) offers both informal and formal recreation opportunities, making it easy for you to keep fit, relax, have fun and meet your fitness goals. Access to the ARC is free to registered students. Programming within the ARC includes group exercise, dance classes, martial arts classes, personal training, rock climbing and intramural sports.

Educational Opportunity Program The Educational Opportunity Program provides a caring and supportive environment for students as they transition to a large university.

Financial Aid and Scholarships Learn about your financial aid award and explore scholarships and various types of financial aid.

Internship and Career Center The Internship and Career Center (ICC) offers valuable services to students throughout their academic journey, from incoming freshmen to graduating seniors. ICC services can help students with career decisions, resume writing, interviewing and finding an internship or a job.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual Resource Center The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual Resource Center helps to create a safe, inclusive space for the community at UC Davis. The center is committed to challenging sexism, transphobia, homophobia, biphobia and heterosexism.

MyUCDavis MyUCDavis is an internet portal where students can access information and resources, ranging from academics such as student advising, scheduling classes and finding support, to employee services, finances and even student life.

Office of the University Registrar The registrar provides student identification cards, controls the course registration system, verifies student enrollment and provides student transcripts.

Online Advising Student Information System The Online Advising Student Information System is a central location for students to learn about important deadlines, submit and track forms and petitions and fill out degree worksheets to help plan their coursework.

Student Academic Success Center The Student Academic Success Center (SASC) helps students thrive by providing academic, personal, social and transitional support. Utilizing a holistic approach, SASC offers services that empower students to take responsibility for their learning and offers trained student tutors and drop-in tutoring sessions. TRANSFER REENTRY VETERANS CENTER Consider the Transfer Reentry Veterans Center as a home away from home. The center accommodates all transfers, veterans, dependents of veterans and reentry students. Here, students can learn how to adjust to UC Davis life and explore resources available for academic excellence.

TRiO SCHOLARS PROGRAM The TRiO Scholars Program promotes the academic, social, personal and professional success of our students by building a strong sense of community and drawing on UC Davis Resources.

Student Health and Counseling Services UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services provides a wide variety of medical, mental health and wellness services to all registered UC Davis students, regardless of insurance coverage. Most services are provided through scheduled appointments; however, urgent care (service without an appointment) is also available for acute medical and mental health needs. Services are provided at two primary locations: the Student Health and Wellness Center and North Hall.

Support Services Aggie Food Connection

Cal Fresh

Computer Loan forms/computers.html

Fruit & Veggie Up!

The Pantry

We Are Aggie Pride



Campus Safety With a campus as large as ours and with many of us being so far away from home, these campus safety resources ensure a protected and secure environment for all students and faculty.

Aggie Guardian

Center for Advocacy Resources and Education (CARE)

Fire Department

Police Department Composed of a team of community counselors, the Community Advising Network (CAN) assists all students, especially those from underserved populations, to achieve their goals and address factors that may be affecting their academic success. CAN community counselors are a diverse group of professional staff who understand student issues and are here to help. CAN community counselors provide students with free and anonymous consultation and personal counseling in addition to programs, workshops and other campus-community outreach activities (CAN counselors do not provide academic advising.)

Student Recruitment and Retention Center The Student Recruitment and Retention Center (SRRC) offers student-run and student-initiated programs that foster holistic academic and personal development while raising political and cultural awareness. The SRRC study lounge provides tutoring and test materials and is a great place to get your homework done.


Safe Party Collective provides both academic and social support to empower transfer, reentry, parent and all non-traditional students to succeed in higher education. Collective offers all students a safe and welcoming environment to further engage in their educational pursuits. Furthermore, through campus visits, Collective introduces disadvantaged students to the opportunities and possibilities higher education provides.

Safe Rides campus_security/safe_rides.html

Tipsy Taxi


Student Disability Center The Student Disability Center coordinates specialized academic support services and promotes integrated participation in campus life for students with disabilities.

Study Abroad UC Davis offers a wide variety of study abroad options. Students in any major can participate for a summer, a quarter or an entire year. Studying, exploring and engaging with other cultures before graduation is an incredible learning experience that will broaden your perspective of the world.

Undergraduate Research Center The Undergraduate Research Center (URC) empowers students to find research opportunities and provides them with resources to hone skills vital to success as a researcher. Explore the URC site to discover how to find an undergraduate research position and excel in the experience.

Women’s Resources and Research Center The Women’s Resources and Research Center is a great place to learn about gender equity, meet friends and get involved with on-campus programs and student groups. Sexism affects everyone and students can take part in making UC Davis safer and more inclusive for everyone.

Middle Eastern/South Asian Living-Learning Community The Middle Eastern/South Asian (ME/SA) Living-Learning Community is for students interested in exploring the Middle Eastern, North African, Southwest Asian and South Asian identities and cultures. Being in a living-learning community allows students to enjoy programs and activities related to a theme as well as traditional socials and recreational opportunities. Living-learning communities are located in specific residence halls and floors. Because the location of each community changes each year, contact Student Housing for current information.




The Middle East/South Asia (ME/SA) Studies program was founded in 2004 as an undergraduate minor. In response to the demands of UC Davis students and the urgent need to understand this crucial area of the world, a ME/SA major program was added in 2008. In this interdisciplinary program, students take classes in history, anthropology, political science, religious studies and many other disciplines to explore a unique set of issues of both historical and contemporary importance. They develop an in-depth understanding of the common historical experience shared by many peoples in these region and of the legacies of culture, social exchange, power and empowerment across diverse settings. The ME/SA Studies program prepares students for careers in non-governmental organizations, journalism and media industries, education and research, government service, diplomacy and business by equipping them with strong skills in critical thinking and cultural awareness.

Middle East/South Asia Studies (Major and Minor) The Middle East and South Asia Studies undergraduate major was launched in fall 2008. By 2009, community members had funded the Suad Joseph Lecture series in Iranian Studies. By 2010, ME/SA had won the PARSA Community Foundation endowed visiting lectureship in Iranian Studies and donor funding for the Faris Saeed Arab Studies lecture series. By 2013, UC Davis had over 30 ME/SA-affiliated faculty, 22 teaching faculty and over 100 courses. As the only University of California campus with a minor and major in Middle East/South Asia Studies, UC Davis is a pioneer in the study of the Middle East and South Asia in relationship to each other.

Arab Studies (Minor) The Arab Studies minor was founded at UC Davis in 2006. Faculty research focuses on the Arab world from the 11th century to the present and spans a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, art history, Asian American studies, comparative literature and many more. It also offers over 50 courses on the Arab world.

Iran and Persian Studies (Minor) The Iran and Persian Studies minor facilitates dialogue and academic exchange and seeks to

engage the Iranian American community during this critical time in international relations. Students can take classes in history, comparative literature and Middle East and South Asia studies.

Standard Arabic, with a component of colloquial Arabic that integrates listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students can also take courses on cultures of the Arab world.

India and South Asia Studies (Minor)

Instructor: Galia Franco UC Davis offers classes in modern Hebrew (speaking, listening, reading and writing) and Biblical Hebrew (vocabulary and grammar of the Biblical text).

The India and South Asia Studies minor explores the hopes and challenges of the South Asian region, a vibrant center of global transformation. The India and South Asia Studies program has hosted film screenings, photo exhibitions, symposiums, conferences, lecture series and music and dance performances celebrating the South Asian world.

Languages Languages widely used in the Middle Eastern and South Asian regions help ground our students in learning about and connecting to these rich cultures. Students in the Middle East and South Asia major are required to complete at least two years of training in a language appropriate to their area of expertise.


HINDI/URDU Instructors: Poonam Chauhan, Shonali Srvivastava UC Davis offers two years of Hindi/Urdu at the elementary and intermediate levels. This unique language program introduces students to vocabulary from both the Hindi and Urdu languages (often referred to as ‘Hindustani’) in speech. Students learn to read and write the Devanagari script through instruction and interactive programming. The program works independently with students interested in advanced Hindi/Urdu and the Urdu script.

ARABIC Instructors: Shayma Hassouna, Manar Al-Shatarat, Malaka Shatta, Noha Radwan, Jocelyn Sharlet UC Davis offers three years of Arabic at the elementary, intermediate and advanced levels, but students can also request independent studies at more advanced levels. Instruction is in Modern




Professor, Anthropology Director, Middle East/South Asia Studies Program Co-Director, Mellon Research Initiative on Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds | 530-752-9223

Associate Professor, History | 530-752-1389

RESEARCH INTERESTS South Asia and Indian Ocean worlds; religion; cities and urbanism; utopias; cultures of performance; the body SELECT COURSES TAUGHT Urban Anthropology Performance, Embodiment and Space in South Asia Religion in Culture and Society SELECTED PUBLICATIONS Landscapes of Urban Memory: The Sacred and the Civic in India’s High Tech City (2001); In the Presence of Sai Baba (2008); A Place for Utopia: Urban Designs from South Asia (2015)

SELECT COURSES TAUGHT Middle East/South Asia: Comparative Perspectives Middle Eastern History II: Crusades Middle Eastern History IV: Safavids Iran Medieval India SELECTED PUBLICATIONS The Ghazi Sultans and the Frontiers of Islam: A Comparative Study of the Late Medieval and Early Modern Periods (2009)



Distinguished Professor, Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies Founding Director, Middle East/South Asia Studies Program | 530-752-1593

Professor, Religious Studies | 530-752-6255

RESEARCH INTERESTS Lebanon and Middle East; cross-cultural studies of selfhood; children; family systems; ethnicity and state and nation; citizenship and human rights SELECT COURSES TAUGHT Peoples of the Middle East Gender in the Arab World Family Values SELECTED PUBLICATIONS Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures (editor); Women and Power in the Middle East (co-editor); Gender and Citizenship in the Middle East (editor); Intimate Selving in Arab Families. Gender, Self and Identity (editor)


RESEARCH INTERESTS Comparative Islamic empires; Indo-Persian culture; Indo-Persian historiography; early Safavid history

RESEARCH INTERESTS Cultures of modern Muslim reform in the Middle East and especially Yemen SELECT COURSES TAUGHT Modern Islam The Social Life of Islam Fundamentalism Religion and Language SELECTED PUBLICATIONS The Moral Resonance of Arab Media: Audiocassette Poetry and Culture in Yemen (2007); The Audacious Ascetic: What the bin Laden Tapes Reveal about Al-Qa`ida (2015)

NOHA RADWAN Associate Professor, Comparative Literature RESEARCH INTERESTS Middle Eastern literature in Arabic and Hebrew, postcolonial literature in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia

SUSAN GILSON MILLER Professor, History | 530-752-0656 RESEARCH INTERESTS Africa, Asia and the Middle East, Jews of the non-Western world, human rights and humanitarian relief SELECT COURSES TAUGHT Great Cities of the Middle East and South Asia The History of North Africa (The Maghrib): 1830 to the Present Antisemitism and Islamophobia Mediterranean Passages: Theory and Practice of a Regional History

SELECT COURSES TAUGHT Fairy Tales, Fables and Parables Major Books – The Modern Crisis SELECTED PUBLICATIONS Egyptian Colloquial Poetry and the Modern Arabic Canon (2012)

SUDIPTA SEN Professor, History | 530-752-3047


RESEARCH INTERESTS South Asia, British empire, law, environment

Berbers and Others: Beyond Tribe and Nation in the Maghrib (2010, co-editor); The Architecture and Memory of the Minority Quarter of the Muslim Mediterranean City (2010, co-editor); A History of Modern Morocco: 1830-2000 (2013)

SELECT COURSES TAUGHT History of Indian Civilization Medieval India Modern India

JOCELYN SHARLET Associate Professor, Comparative Literature RESEARCH INTERESTS Classical Arabic and Persian literature SELECT COURSES TAUGHT Shahnameh: Book of Kings Literatures of the Islamic World Major Works from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment Power and Desire in Persian Literature SELECTED PUBLICATIONS Patronage and Poetry in the Islamic World: Social Mobility and Status in the Medieval Middle East and Central Asia (2011)

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS Ganga: The Many Pasts of an Indian River; Distant Sovereignty: National Imperialism and the Origins of British-India (2002); Empire of Free Trade: The East India Company and the Making of the Colonial Marketplace (1998)

MAIRAJ U. SYED Assistant Professor, Religious Studies RESEARCH INTERESTS Islamic law; early Islamic history; Hadith literature; Islamic ethics; ethical theory; Islamic political thought; Islamic intellectual history; law and society; moral philosophy; social theory; gender SELECT COURSES TAUGHT The Qur’an and Its Interpreters Introduction to Islamic Thought Sex, Marriage and Divorce in Medieval and Modern Society Hadith Literature SELECTED PUBLICATIONS Coercion and Responsibility in Islam (2016)




ME/SA Student Affairs Officer | 530-752-1550

ME/SA Studies Program Coordinator | 530-754-4926

Jinni develops and sustains campus initiatives and services that support the Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian student communities. She works in collaboration with campus partners to promote student leadership and academic success. Jinni also serves on campuswide committees to increase the visibility and support dedicated to the Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian student communities.

Gurjit coordinates the Middle East/South Asia Studies major, minor, academic conferences, lectures and programs. She supports Middle Eastern and South Asian students through academic advising. Gurjit provides a sense of belonging, making the Middle East/South Asia Studies program a community.

OLIVIA HERNANDEZ GEETANJALI VIJ ME/SA Studies Community and Outreach Coordinator | 530-754-4927 Geetanjali supports the Middle East/South Asia Studies program’s academic initiatives and community outreach efforts. A UC Davis alumna, she is excited to be back working with the Middle Eastern and South Asian community facilitating program collaborations and students’ academic interests.

Cross Cultural Center Program Coordinator for ME/SA Community | 530-752-4057 Olivia works closely with the ME/SA Community student coordinator at the Cross Cultural Center to create and develop programming that uplifts, informs and engages the Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian student communities. She also supports and oversees the mixed heritage and Chicanx/Latinx communities. Her strengths include providing intersectional support, creative approaches and dedication toward student leadership and academic success.

SHEETAL SHAH, PH.D. Community Advising Network (CAN) Counselor | 530-752-6255 Sheetal assists students who are experiencing personal and academic stressors that may be impacting their ability to reach their goals. She provides the ME/SA community with culturally sensitive support through individual, couples and group therapy as well as consulting and workshops.


MUNISA HAQUE, LMFT Clinical Counselor 530-752-2349 (Student Health and Counseling Services appointment desk) Munisa meets with students to explore their academic and personal concerns and collaboratively work with them to seek solutions. She specializes in working with Muslim American students and can provide culturally sensitive support through individual therapy. Appointments with Munisa are made through Student Health and Counseling Services.


STUDENT EDITORIAL BOARD Left to right: Esperanz Fuentes Aguilera, Laurence Paulite, Ellen SandersRaigosa, Nathalie Schrans, Tara Saghir Not pictured: Zareen Nayyar, Rajat Paul

Students representing the UC Davis community centers formed the student editorial board. As members of the board, these students provided guidance for content development, design, photos and student profiles. With their contributions, this guide is reflective of the ME/SA community and student voice.

STUDENT CREATIVE TEAM Left to right: Alexander Park, Melanie Zelaya, Jie Song, Jessica Lam, Casey Tsen, Jay Gelvezon, Nicole Sullivan

The Student Affairs Marketing and Communications student designers and photographers collaborated on the graphic design of the ME/SA Cultural Guide and fashioned it into what it is now. With guidance from the student editorial board, the student designers produced a unique design tailored to the needs of the ME/SA community. The creative team hopes you enjoy the aesthetic experience of the guide and use it as a resource for your life at UC Davis.




The MESA Pages: The Middle Eastern and South Asian Cultural Guilde  
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