Starting off a new Sunday on a gorgeous day in January, many students, faculty and those of the St. Cloud community gather to celebrate the Saudi Student Club’s very first cultural night in the last five years. While the room was filled with excitement, history, and enthusiasm, the theme of the event, “Alsallamo Alaiko” or “peace be with you” really stood out on that wonderful night of cultural education and appreciation.
The occasion was composed of many different skits, all of which were entertaining, to demonstrate what life is like in Saudi Arabia. They ranged all the way from simply eating breakfast with your family in the morning to going to large celebratory events. The organization had shown their traditions and beliefs through wild passion, loud cheers and free-spirited dancing with one another.
Not only that but what made the night different from other cultural events was their ability to interact with the crowd. Many times, they would ask for non-Arabic people, including myself at one point, to come onto the stage and explain what knowledge they had about Saudi Arabia. Even at the very end of the night, six volunteers were asked to go on stage and display what they have learned.
When the event came to a close, the audience was pleased to know the night had not ended just yet as dinner was to be served. People were given what looked to be a rainbow of assorted food. Rice was the base for the entrees, consisting of beef, a blend of vegetables marinated and made to perfection. The spices used were nothing less than strong, bold and delicious; adding an extra kick to the already wonderful layout.
Although the performances, interactions, and food which exceeded expectations, what stood out about this cultural night were how those in the Saudi Student’s Club had demonstrated that not only are they proud to be Arabian but also to be American as well.
A member of the organization AJ Almanasif expressed his gratitude toward those who have made him and many others from Saudi Arabia feel welcome in a new country.
“We traveled far and wide and we landed on this very land, the land of the brave. The land where we meet very nice and generous people like you. You opened your homes to us, schools, and mostly your hearts. You held our hands and showed us the way, and for that, we are very grateful. I would like to thank you for kindness and for taking care of all of us at this time,” Almanasif said.
The beginning also consisted of the Saudi Arabian flag with the country’s national anthem streaming its way to the speakers, but closely followed was the student above, carrying out the American flag with our national anthem blaring through the Atwood Ballroom.
The whole evening had one theme, “peace be with you.” That phrase means more than it’s given credit for. In a world where peace can sometimes be lost, it shows that there is still some hope for everyone. Every person that was at the event was nothing less than welcoming, friendly and polite. For a moment, to be in such a positive environment can block out the negativity from the outside world. It makes St. Cloud State University not only a more diverse environment but augmented.
Vice President of Student Life and Development Wanda Overland said how experiences and events like cultural nights really make all the difference in making our campus a better place.
“We have over 90 countries and it really does enrich our campus environment, and… I’ve learned a great deal not only from our students, faculty and staff, by certainly coming to the cultural nights,” Overland said.
What it means to be Arabian is not solely based on what type of traditions they may have, what kind of instruments they play, or by what type of food they eat. It’s about bringing peace to yourself and others and day by day, making the world a better place.