I-House program invites students, community to Saudi Arabian events

The International House hosted one of its three World Showcase programs this week, ending with Culture Night. The program turned its focus to Saudi Arabia, providing Saudia Arabian food and coffee, teaching facts about the country and hosting a trivia game.

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The International House hosts its World Showcase program three times a semester, highlighting different countries by dedicating an entire week to celebrate different country’s culture. Its second program focused on Saudi Arabia, which began Tuesday and ended with Culture Night on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Culture Night began with hosts passing out small cups of traditional Saudi Arabian coffee, followed by serving traditional dishes and desserts. The first hour consisted of tasting various dishes and socializing with other guests and hosts.

“(The food) is so good and flavorful,” said Lois Palcu, senior at UT. “I had expected it to be good because it’s Saudi Arabia but I didn’t expect this combination.”

The hosts gave presentations that included a brief history and facts about the country’s economy, education system, architecture, and culture.

“For one thing, our clothes (are different than Americans),” said Yazeed Alkhrijah, senior at UT and president of the Saudi Arabia Student Association (SASA). “I have to customize myself to the environment here so I have to wear jeans and a shirt.”

The hosts demonstrated how Saudi Arabians greet each other by shaking hands and kissing each other once on both cheeks. One of the hosts and UT international freshman Mohammed Alhejali hosted a trivia game where he projected his phone number and asked the audience to text in answers. He would randomly select winners who would have to perform the traditional greeting in order to receive his or her prize.

Xylina Marshall, a senior at UT, comes to most of the Culture Nights because she finds them interesting and “a good way to expand your mindset while at UT.”

“I thought it was really interesting to see the brotherhood that was going on. I would definitely consider going (to Saudi Arabia) to experience it,” said Marshall.

Toward the end of the night, hosts demonstrated traditional music and performed a traditional dance.

“I think international (students) are shy to talk to the Americans and are worried the other people won’t understand them,” said Alhejaili. “So we have this event to connect them and show them who the other person is.”

The third program will focus on Latin America, according to I-House’s website.

Featured image by Kaitlin Flippo

Edited by Hannah Hunnicutt