Event aims to celebrate heritage of Middle East

Laura Cordle

‘1,001 Nights’ celebration fills Student Center

Ayat Shendy performs Shik Shak Shok, a belly dance routine, at “1,001 Nights” presented by the Middle Eastern Student Association Saturday. Rachel Kilroy | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Guests feasted on a Mediterranean buffet-style dinner and watched dance performances Saturday night as part of the Middle Eastern Student Association of Kent’s “1,001 Nights” program aimed at celebrating heritage.

The event attracted 300 people to the Student Center Ballroom and included a special guest appearance by musician Tony Eid and his band.

“The purpose of this organization is to raise a positive awareness of the Middle Eastern culture and to celebrate it,” said MESA Vice President Ola Hassanein, junior international relations major.

Hassanein and Shahd Haider, president and founder of MESA, worked all semester to make “1,001 Nights” a reality.

“Case Western has a large MESA program, and our goal is to bring the program to Kent and show students how amazing different cultures can be,” Hassanein said.

Lottie Mak, an exchange student studying fashion merchandising, said the event brought in people from many different cultures.

“I came to the event to be with my friends and for the different cultural experience,” she said.

MESA hosts meetings once a week where they discuss what it means to be Middle Eastern and enjoy each other’s company. Other activities they participate in include Jeopardy games and soccer games with other MESA members.

“You don’t have to be Middle Eastern to be a part of our organization,” Hassanein said. “Anyone can join and enjoy our celebrations.”

Audrey Cecil, freshman business major, attended the event out of support.

“One of my friends is dancing in the show, so I came to watch her dance,” she said.

Omara Kazadi, sophomore business major, played the genie at “1,001 Nights.”

“Most of my friends are a part of this organization, and it is a great group full of great people and I was really happy to do it,” he said.

Contact news correspondent Laura Cordle at [email protected].