Kurdish Culture Night took place at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 30 in Smith Memorial Ballroom. The annual event is organized by the Kurdish Youth Organization at Portland State to showcase Kurdish culture through performances, dancing and food.
First-year graduate student and KYO President Rawand Rasheed greeted guests by the door with a smile.
Rasheed explained that KYO is a student organization that aims to provide PSU with a snapshot of Kurdish culture. It is made up of seven PSU students and a few community volunteers.
The organization was founded in January 2014 by Rasheed and two other students who have since graduated. They saw many ethnic groups from the Middle East represented by student organizations, but not Kurds. They decided to change that with KYO.
“The KYO’s mission is to spread awareness of the Kurdish people,” Rasheed said. “We are actually the largest minority on Earth without a country…We also aim to spread the Kurdish culture across PSU and help enrich the Portland State campus.”
Psychology student Mahmoud Khellah explained he has a lot of Kurdish friends who keep him informed on political and cultural affairs going on in the area. He has attended this event three times before and said he always has a good time because of the high energy of the three-hour dance.
Ahmed Al Dulaimi, a first-year computer engineering student, described the event as cheerful and happy. He said he thinks the event gives an opportunity for community building because people from Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and elsewhere in the region all attend together.
Al Dulaimi, who was attending the event for the first time, said he came to learn about the Kurdish community as well as to dance and have fun.
Rasheed explained he feels it is important for PSU students to understand current events and the struggles Kurdish people face in the contemporary Middle East. He added that KYO is also interested in helping strengthen the Kurdish community at PSU and in the greater Portland Metro area.
“We want PSU students to walk away knowing that Kurdish culture is unique with its intricate dancing, amazing food and great music,” Rasheed said. “We want PSU students to feel empowered when they see a people that survived genocide still here thriving and enjoying life to the fullest no matter what hardships were faced in the past. If people walk away with joy, inspiration and new knowledge of a people they never heard of before, we have done our job.”