Baker Arabian Night to spread culture and language

Baker University Center Ballroom will be filled with the sights, smells and sounds of a traditional Middle Eastern and North African souq Thursday night for the Arabic Language Student Association’s annual Arabian Night.

A souq, the Arabic word meaning open-air market, is a centerpiece for the different cultures throughout the region, said Samuel Bockoven, president of the group and a senior studying linguistics.

“The souq offers a nice point to gather the community,” Bockoven said. “Holding the Arabian Night souq-style allows for a more interactive experience.”

The $5 ticket will cover the buffet of Middle Eastern specialties, such as kebabs and baba ghanoush, but stands will be set up throughout the ballroom offering items such as scarves and henna tattoos for sale.

Dahoud Hakim and his traditional Arabic wedding band Al Layali will perform as well.

The Arabian Night was moved to the fall to spread International Student Union sponsored events out throughout the year, said Chelsea Flenar, vice president of the Arabic Language Student Association and a senior studying political science. 

“The Arabian Night isn’t tied to a specific holiday, so it was just easier to move it to the fall this year,” Flenar said.

The Arabic Language Student Association received about $5,000 from ISU — which receives its money from the Student Appropriations Committee — to hold the event, she added.

Member organizations of ISU send budget proposals to ISU for any events they want to plan during a semester, and the budget is voted on during a general body meeting, said Camila LeMaster Esquivel, vice president of ISU and a senior studying political science and history.

“ISU has a growing membership, therefore we get the same resources but we get more and more proposals,” LeMaster said. “It takes compromise, cooperation and a lot of hard work from the member organizations to cut their budget or find other sources of funding.”

Bockoven said he hopes the Arabian Night can help change the perception of Arabic culture from how it is often portrayed in the media.

“You don’t know the cultures from the Arabic speaking world until you meet someone from there,” he said. “Instead of showing the images we typically see, we wanted to make it really authentic and let the culture speak for itself.”


If You Go

What: A Night at the Souq, The Arabian Night 2012

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Baker University Center Ballroom

Admission: $5

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