This past Wednesday, five student organizations joined together to hold Arts and Bites—an exam de-stressor event in the presentation room of the Student Centre. The event was hosted by the Middle Eastern Students’ Association, Association of Palestinian Students, Health and Counselling Centre’s Wellness at UTM, Egyptian Students’ Association, and Healthy Minds. Some activities offered at the event included button making, learning dabkeh (a Middle Eastern dance), board games, and henna.

Zahira Tasabehji, a third-year political science student and president of MESA, said that Arts and Bites gives students an opportunity to “take a break from studying and unwind” during the upcoming exam season.

“Oftentimes, students are so caught up in their school work, that they forget to step back and treat themselves. So, we believe it’s important for students to find that space that allows them to enjoy themselves, along with others, away from the work and academic stress,” said Tasabehji.

Tasabehji explained that all five clubs divided the responsibilities while organizing the event. In particular, MESA was responsible for bringing the event’s decorations and art supplies. APS, in conjunction with the Layaleena Dabke Group, a non-UTM related group, led the dabke instruction. ESA was responsible for bringing the event’s food, which included tabbouleh and samosas, as well as setting up the photo booth. Wellness at UTM ran the button-making station. Lastly, Healthy Minds brought the board games available at the event.

Sarah Abdel Rahman, a third-year theatre and drama studies student and MESA executive, helped run MESA’s food station. She stated that although part of the event’s purpose is to help student de-stress, MESA also hoped to share cultural foods to students.

At the Wellness at UTM booth, a poster visually depicted information regarding stress. “The booth is explaining what stress is and the symptoms of it. Some examples of de-stressors are meditation, board games, or crafts. We’re trying to promote ways of de-stressing, especially, around this time of the year with exams,” said Rachel Motamodi, a fourth-year environmental management and human geography student and member of Wellness at UTM.

When asked why the event focused on artistic endeavors as a form of stress management, Motamodi replied, “Art has a history of soothing. Art reflects what you’re feeling and diverts your mind away from your sadness.”