Thursday October 5, 2017

Success for Saudi National Day Celebration

Saturday, September 23 marked the 87th Saudi National Day, created in 1932, to commemorate the establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by King Abdulaziz. The Saudi Student Association (SSA) here at the University of Dayton (UD) honored this celebration on Friday, September 22 in the KU Torch Lounge. SSA has worked to coordinate this event for the past 5 years, but decided to take the event to the next level this year in what they offered and how they organized the event.

“We hoped this event [would] allow others to share in Saudi culture, connect with each other, and learn something new about Saudi Arabia,” shared Sulaiman Alhazzaa, the President of SSA. This vibrant event featured music, videos, dancing, desserts and more. As a participant, when you entered the room, you were welcomed by a host who guided you through the rest of the event. As you continued on, students presented a number of posters highlighting a variety of cultural aspects about Saudi Arabia. Poster topics included an extensive history of Saudi Arabia, how to share proper greetings, formal and informal ways for social engagement, an overview of family structure, information on humanitarian efforts, national holidays and more.

There were also several interactive stations around the room, featuring traditional Arabic coffee and dates, examples of both men’s and women’s clothing, a lesson on learning the Arabic alphabet, and finally a photo booth with a large Saudi National Day backdrop. The room was filled with energy, and transformed into a space of celebration and cheer.

SSA worked with partners on and off campus to expand the event this year. In order to share this holiday with the larger campus, SSA decided to offer this event as PATH eligible, in hopes of reaching a wider audience. Over 150 people attended the event, many from the U.S. and countries around the world.

When asked what he hopes to achieve at UD, Sulaiman shared, “I hope I can walk across campus someday and everyone would know how to properly greet someone in Arabic; ‘Al-Salaam Alaikum; meaning ‘peace be upon you’.” Saudi National Day was a great step towards achieving that goal.

SSA’s event was a success beyond just the borders of campus. Video footage from the event, created by a student Abdullah Bin Khatlah, was shared on one of the national television networks in Saudi Arabia, “MBC”. As well, a comedian and YouTube Blogger, Ali Alhumaidi, tweeted a few photos from the day. “It was more than just SSA, it was the whole community’s time, energy, and efforts that raised our spirits to do more and more for this event.

Sulaiman wanted to thank several people who helped make the Saudi National Day event a success. “I would like to thank all of the Saudi Student Association, and especially the Vice Presidents, Nourah Alqahtani and Abdulmuhsen Alanazi for all of their work. I would also like to thank SACM (Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission) who helped sponsor the event, both financially and by providing informational brochures. Also, Ms. Suzanne Richardt for advocating for us, and to UD for letting us have the event, and helping us accomplish our success as students, and leaders in our society.”

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