What brings you to Kurdish Night at Portland State? “I’m organizing it.” said Nima Seyed, co-chair of the Arab Persian Student Organization. Kurdish Culture Night took place in the Smith Memorial Student Union ballroom on May 7. The event was put on in collaboration with the PSU Kurdish Youth Organization.
“From APSO[‘s] perspective we are trying to bring the culture together, both Arabs and Persians and the rest of the world, with these events for cultural awareness on campus,” Seyed said. “We try to pick at least one country from the Middle East to represent. This year we did the Egyptian Night, Kurdish Night and our annual event is Persian New Year.”
Performances began at 7:20 p.m. and continued until 8 p.m. Members of the audience joined in the dancing.
“[Our] main goal [is to] represent these cultures to everyone—not just PSU students—but for everyone [in] the whole community. We try to collaborate, [but] there is a lot of conflict. We don’t close our eyes to it. We put that aside and focus on the good. Not that we don’t mention conflict but that we try to resolve conflict.
“These events are not exclusive—they are not only for the people specific to the community, this has been our biggest struggle the last four years. The whole purpose [of] Kurdish cultural awareness night [is the] same as the other events we do.”
Maryam Hosseina, who’s a Persian from Iran, mentioned, “I met a Kurdish girl that invited me to the event. There are a lot of Kurdish people from my country. They don’t have a nation, so they are spread out over mainly three countries: Syria and Turkey. One of those [countries] is Iran. We are related and I wanted to meet more Kurdish people.”
Among the attendees were Mo Hashemi and his uncle Gholam Ghisvand. “My uncle is 94, [and] he is one of the oldest Kurdish people here.”
Ghisvand has lived in France where he operated both restaurants and bakeries. In the ’70s he oversaw both factories of over 500 employees and worked in the banking industry as a CFO for many years. He’s written several books (Death of Believe, Mother, Human Verses) and still puts in 10 to 15 hours a day finding information for his next book.
Hashemi attended PSU between‘72 and ‘79 until the Iran revolution happened. He later returned to PSU to study architecture and design. When asked what they thought of tonight’s event, “We didn’t get to talk to too many people, but it was good,” Hashemi said.
Also in attendance was Karmand Rasheed. Rasheed is a PSU mechanical engineering student and volunteer with the KYOn. When asked what he thought of the event tonight, he said, “Yes, this event turned out great. Lots of people from other cultures [were] here. [It was a] great time together—dancing [and] great food.”