On January 4th there was a New Year-New You event at the Malden Public Library. It was hosted by the American Association for Arab Women. There was a dialogue presented by Michele English, a certified BTB & Compass School Feng Shui practitioner. The BTB school of feng shui is short for the Black Sect Tantric Buddhist School of Feng Shui which is a feng shui school in the United States. The talk was followed by a Japanese flute performance by Elizabeth Bennett.
The president of the American association for Arab Women is Souad Akib. She says the association wanted to hold this event because they “want everyone to be able to start fresh this year because of all of the changes coming in 2017”. She said that “lately the city of Malden has been working into becoming a more united community and [that the association] wanted to do something for the city as well."
The night started at 6:00 with a reception where everyone had the opportunity to introduce themselves to each other and settle down. There were snacks put out and many conversations going on. Nearing 6:30, Michele English was introduced and began her discussion on Feng Shui. She started talking about feng shui’s history and how it has adapted. Feng shui is the ancient Chinese practice of encouraging the positive flow of energy in a space.
As a feng shui practitioner, English says that she goes “to peoples houses for three main reasons, when they want to improve their love life, health, and money.” Some of the ways she helps them to do this is by removing clutter or buying things for her house that bring positive energy. An example of that would be buying an upwards facing lamp to “raise its energy throughout the room.”
After her presentation, Bennett took the stage and played a ten minute piece on her shakuhachi, which is a japanese flute. Bennett was the first women to be certified a Grand Master of the shakuhachi back in 1998. She has practiced and performed with Aoki Reibo, who has been playing the shakuhachi for 30 years and is renowned for his talent.
Bennett has had an interest in Asia since high school. She began to play the shakuhachi in college because of a program they had at her University in Connecticut. She “secretly thought [she] would pursue it” but before she would, she began to teach art history. She kept going to Japan and kept wanting to play the shakuhachi instead of just teaching so she officially decided to pursue it career wise.
When asked how her playing at this event came about Bennett said that she was “planning to move to Morocco and when [she] was looking for someone to help her get settled she got into contact with Souad.” Akib found a group in Morocco willing to help Bennett out and after that was settled she asked her to play at this event and Bennett gladly accepted.
Akib was very happy with the turnout. She mentioned that there were people from many towns attending the event and was “happy to give others a chance to meet new people.” The American association for Arab Women will also host the upcoming annual International Women’s day in March where many women from different communities will be present.