Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Middle Eastern Festival features culture, fun and foodBy Katie Land, news editor
Oakland University’s Lebanese Club, Arab American Student Organization (ASSO) and Chaldean American Student Association (CASA) have joined forces to present the second annual Middle Eastern Festival from 5-11:30 p.m. on Friday, March 20, in the Oakland Center Banquet Rooms.
“This festival is very important to my organization and my school because it shows how diverse a community we really are,” said Matt Rabah, president of the AASO. “Experiencing other cultures is something that everybody should have the chance to do and I am glad we have the opportunity to share our culture with the rest of the school.”
The event will offer an array of entertainment and traditional Middle Eastern food. The open buffet boasts shish kabob, shawarma, hummus, fattouch, baklava and more.
As a centerpiece for the evening, there will be performances featuring song by Joe Arabbo and JAD, as well as dance by E’rootha Dance Troupe, Detroit Belly Dancers and the Desert Gypsies. The performers were selected based on both their authentic styles and ability to mix in a little bit of popular culture, according to Ranna Mikha, president of the CASA.
The evening’s entertainment draws from a diverse community of performers. The Detroit Belly Dancers are an international group that has performed for CNN and for singer Usher, while vocalist Joe Arabbo is an Oakland student and international business major.
“The fact of the matter is that students are drawn to the party aspect of the event,” Mikha continued. “Ultimately, our goal is to introduce students to the Middle Eastern culture and we can reel students into that through endless music, a ton of food, open-floor dancing and a wide range of performances.”
Last year’s event brought in roughly 150 people. With three student organizations collaborating in 2009, a crowd of more than 250 is expected. The planning has been a major collaborative effort and has forged a new alliance between members.
The three groups have individually received a lot of positive feedback on events in the past, and are excited to be able to combine their forces for one major festival.
“This event is important for our organizations because we love to work together, educate people and make sure everyone is having a great time,” said Maurice Farah, president of the Lebanese Club. “It is not easy to go to school, work and put on these events, but we love the challenge and we love the feeling after an event that we have impacted people in a good way.”
Organizers say the event promises to be a positive experience for all, and may help to form new ties within the student body and the surrounding community.
“I hope that in the midst of all the fun, people will take away some new cultural understanding that they didn't have before of a developing and thriving region of the world, Mikha said. “Maybe, some of these students will be enchanted by something they have not seen before or aspire to visit some of the places that they experience that night.”
The festival is free to Oakland students and $5 for guests.