At her presentation to Farragut Rotary Club, Susan Dakak, president of Arab American Club of Knoxville, expressed pride in both her native Arab culture and the liberty of her current home in the United States.
“This is by far the best country in the world,” she said.
Dakak spoke to FRC Wednes-day, May 18, about Arab American Club of Knoxville, the Arab world — particularly her own youth in Iraq — famous Arab Americans and what she said makes the United States great.
“This country has something which no other country has, which is the Constitution,” she said. “We go on in life selling our ideas.”
She said people did not have to whisper when talking about the government here. She ended the presentation with the Rotary Club joining her in singing “God Bless America.”
“Liberty is freedom with responsibility, and that’s where we go to a higher level … I think America gives you that, not just freedom,” she said in an interview after the presentation.
Dakak said she grew up in Iraq and arrived in the United States in 1978.
“It wasn’t all that bad before. It is today, but it wasn’t all that bad before,” she said regarding Iraq.
“The Jewish community, the Christian community, the Mus-lim community all lived together without any problems.
“All the religions you hear about today, the Yazidis, all the others were all there. We all lived with them. They were our neighbors,” she said. She had a Shiite neighbor who lived next to her own Roman Catholic family.
“At the time when I grew up in Iraq, life in Iraq and life in the United States were very similar,” she said. She showed family pictures including one of an Iraqi graduation.
“Women in Iraq, this is how we lived,” she said regarding the hair and fashion of the time, which she said resembled styles in the United States.
She gave some history of the Arab region. She said Arabs had made many innovations, including a 24-hour system for measuring days and a 12-month system for measuring years.
“We invented the wheel. Why is everybody trying to re-invent it again?” she asked, greeted by laughter from the crowd.
She talked about Arab music, dance and food.
“Any kind of food you have, we do it better,” she said.
She talked about the Arab American Club of Knoxville’s purposes.
“One is to tell the public at large here what we’re all about. Why are we here? Why are we in the United States? Where do we come from?” she said.
“Number two is to allow our kids to have some sort of a comfort in their heritage.”
She showed pictures of the club’s parties and events.
Two upcoming Arab American Club of Knoxville events will be ArabFest Friday, Oct. 21, and Saturday, Oct. 22, at The Uni-versity of Tennessee pedestrian walkway and a New Year’s Eve Party at Hilton Knoxville Airport.
Dakak currently is president of Intuitive Technologies Inc.