ALMA — Last year’s Alma-Dearborn Connection Initiative brought the sights, sounds and smells of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean culture to the Wright Leppien Opera House in downtown Alma for the first time.

Organizers hope to continue the momentum of the successful, first-time event on Wednesday, March 27, as they welcome guest speaker Nabeleh Ghareeb and offer a wide array of arts, crafts, dance and food from the region. The event will run from 5 to 8 p.m.

“We were so pleased by the turnout to last year’s event, and grateful to the community of Alma for the love and support they showed our guests and our objective,” said Khanssaa El Alami Canning, a lecturer of French and Arabic and off-campus studies coordinator at Alma College, who is one of the event organizers.

“We hope to have started a beautiful, new tradition here in Alma — one that’s based around peace, love and celebration of this wonderful culture — prior to Arab American Heritage Month in April.”

The Alma-Dearborn Connection Initiative, which is free and doesn’t require a ticket, will be highlighted by a keynote address from Nabeleh Ghareeb, a business consultant and project manager for multiple nonprofit agencies in the city of Detroit.

Ghareeb will speak about her experience as an immigrant to the United States, coming in search of the “American dream,” as well as the presence of the Middle Eastern community in the state of Michigan.

“For a couple of generations now, Michigan has been a hub of Middle Eastern immigration in the United States. Why is that the case? I’m not sure how many people understand the answer to that, but Nabeleh Ghareeb’s speech will shed some helpful light on the issue,” El Alami Canning said.

“The Middle Eastern community of Michigan are quite literally our neighbors, but in far too many situations, we stay isolated away from each other. It’s our goal with events like this to break down those walls that divide us.”

The event is funded by a grant from the Alma College Center for College and Community Engagement (3CE) and support from the Michigan Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs.

The Wright Leppien Opera House is located at the northeast corner of North State and East Superior streets in Alma. For more information on the event, email El Alami Canning at