Middle Eastern night brings cultural appreciation to the Palouse – The Daily Evergreen

MESA celebrates Middle Eastern night with a colorful venue, food, music and community


Artists draw Arabic calligraphy at the Middle East Student Association cultural event, Compton Union Building, March 4

On March 8, as the students entered the senior ballroom of the Compton Union Building, their eyes and ears encountered colorful clothing from the Middle East and various languages.

The Middle Eastern Student Association was joined by various groups to celebrate Middle Eastern culture with food and music.

The event featured different infographic panels on Middle Eastern countries, and attendees could have their names written in Arabic. The event also provided a photo booth for taking pictures and the opportunity for attendees to have henna drawn on their hands.

“The goal is to bring cultural awareness to the Middle East,” said Refa Al-Amri, a double major in physics and astrophysics and president of MESA.

The host of the event, Hadeel Al Harthi, Senior Earth Science Major and Vice President of MESA, began the celebration with a keynote address and introduced the guest speakers throughout the event.

After a preliminary reading of the Quran, events moved on to the presentation by the Saudi Students Association of a speech for Founder’s Day. The Oman Students Association then performed Al’azi – sung poetry – to show pride in Oman.

The Seattle Dabke Group shared two performances at the event. Dabke is a traditional Palestinian folk dance performed during celebrations. After their first performance, there was a Kahoot which covered questions about different countries in the Middle East.

Then dinner was served with the option of having lamb, chicken or vegetables with rice.

“It’s important for people to come and meet people from different cultures. It is important for non-Americans to meet Americans and vice versa,” said neuroscientist Lujaina AlSubhi.

As an international student, AlSubhi usually attends Middle Eastern events to show her support and feel connected with people from her same culture. She said she was surprised by the number of non-Middle Eastern people who usually attend the events.

After dinner, host Al Harthi gave the closing speech and expressed her gratitude to those who attended the event.

To end the evening, the Seattle Dabke Group performed their final folk dance, and many attendees joined in as they all danced around the room in a line.

Al-Amri said she believed the event fulfilled its purpose of bringing everyone together to celebrate Middle Eastern culture. She said there were a lot of positive responses and finds it amazing that the WSU community wants to know more about their culture.

“We have been planning this event for the past two semesters. I really want to thank the rest of my team for dedicating their time to the event,” Al-Amri said.

James C. Tibbs