Hajj Wafaa presented an overview and demonstration of Arabic calligraphy for MIT students February 21 in the Bush Room, which was attended by over 25 students.

After his talk, he put pen to paper to write students’ names or chosen words in Arabic calligraphy. A station was also set up with materials for students to try their own hands.

The event was emceed by Muna Bruce, who teaches Arabic for global Languages at MIT.

Originally from Iraq, Mr. Wafaa became a refugee during the first Gulf War in 1991. He lived in a refugee camp in Saudi Arabia for 6 years.  There he spent 12 hours a day practicing calligraphy on scraps of paper – with ink he made from crushed berries and pens he made from sticks of wood.  His calligraphy practice helped him survive. Writing ancient surahs (verses) from the Quran brought him a sense of well-being and spiritual strength. It gave him hope.