‘Tastes’ series stops by Saudi Arabia

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‘Tastes’ series stops by Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia: SLU’s Cultural Tastes series highlighted Saudi culture and customs.
Photo courtesy of Adnan Syed

Saudi Arabia: SLU’s Cultural Tastes series highlighted Saudi culture and customs. Photo courtesy of Adnan Syed

Saudi Arabia: SLU’s Cultural Tastes series highlighted Saudi culture and customs. Photo courtesy of Adnan Syed

Saudi Arabia: SLU’s Cultural Tastes series highlighted Saudi culture and customs. Photo courtesy of Adnan Syed

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Tastes: SLU students celebrated Saudi culture at the Center for Global Citizenship. Yasser Alsaleh  / Staff Writer

Tastes: SLU students celebrated Saudi culture at the Center for Global Citizenship.
Yasser Alsaleh / Staff Writer

On the afternoon of Monday, Oct. 6, Saint Louis University students entered the Center for Global Citizenship for a little taste of Saudi Arabia. The event, hosted by the Office of International Services and SLU’s Saudi students, is part of the Cultural Tastes series. Each month, SLU international students will share samples of food, drinks, and pictures from their home country to expose the campus community to diversity.

Claire Boxdorfer, a recent transfer, commented, “Seeing SLU host different cultures and people from all over the world is exciting. Fostering a community of inclusion is what drew me into SLU.”

This cultural taste was particularly important because it celebrated Eid-al-Adha, the biggest Muslim holiday of the year. Marked by festivity, friendship and food, the holiday celebrates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son, Ishmael. Dressing in their finest clothing, families pray and listen to mosque sermons and may symbolically sacrifice an animal.

Saudi students welcomed the SLU community to their celebration for an unexpected afternoon event.  At the entrance, Saudi students wrote individual’s names in Arabic, and pamphlets were given out that provided information on topics from Saudi traditions to Saudi recipes.  Some of the students were dressed in traditional clothing, augmenting the authenticity of the atmosphere.

The event provided a variety of Saudi foods, including coffee, tea, dates, desserts, and candy, for students to try. The event also incorporated traditional music and images from Saudi Arabia for students to experience the Saudi culture in-depth.

Boxdorfer added, “The amount of food and information at this event [was] mind blowing. I learned what Eid-Al-Adha was and even more importantly, I learned to appreciate it.” Before the event, Boxdorfer knew little about Saudi Arabia and Muslim holidays.

International Counselor Annie Rosenkranz helps coordinate the events. For the Taste of Saudi Arabia, she worked closely with SLU’s Saudi student community.

She added, “Many students contributed to hosting this great event.  Walaa Ashmeg took a lead in coordinating the participation and efforts of many student participants by locating restaurants in the St. Louis area that provide foods that taste like home, to provide clothing, informational pamphlets, posters, music, dance, a photo booth, and more.”

The Cultural Tastes series aims to nurture a community of acceptance, which this past event accomplished. Often, different cultures and religions receive negative connotations based on stereotypes. However, the University is pushing past these barriers. By educating students and exposing them to different cultures, SLU becomes a true body of inclusion.

Sophomore Michaela Bukaty agreed, “SLU is promoting different groups and clubs from every corner of society. Being able to learn Saudi customs one week and celebrate something completely different the next is something we cannot take for granted.” She, like many others, enjoyed the festivities of A Taste of Saudi Arabia for the first time.

Thailand, Korea, Brazil, China, Nicaragua, Mexico, and others have all been represented in past Taste series. The goal is that each one becomes more successful than the last, thereby exposing more students to different ways of life. Cultural Taste events draw roughly 300 members of the SLU community and are open to all. The events are a great chance to bring a wide range of the community members together each month to celebrate and learn with each other.

Rosenkranz ended by saying that events like these allow all students, domestic and international, to engage with and learn from each other.  International students, get to share their stories and culture with their SLU community. In return, domestic students get a chance to try new food, to learn about a foreign country and culture, and to build the global relationships unique to global campuses, like SLU.

Saudi Arabia: SLU’s Cultural Tastes series highlighted Saudi culture and customs. Photo courtesy of Adnan Syed

Saudi Arabia: SLU’s Cultural Tastes series highlighted Saudi culture and customs.
Photo courtesy of Adnan Syed