International Night at Portland State will occupy three floors of the Smith Memorial Student Union Friday evening with the largest event put on this year by the Organization of International Students.
The event will last for five hours, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and will move participants from Smith’s first-floor cafeteria for food to the third-floor ballroom for world dances.
The cafeteria will be open from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., offering buffet-style traditional cuisine from Italy, Lebanon, China and Iran. A mariachi band will serenade diners throughout the evening.
Upstairs, from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. in the ballroom, attendees can view dances and other entertainment, including a multinational fashion show. Medhi Boubiya, the event organizer, said he thinks the highlight of the evening will be a performance by the only Oregon Middle Eastern Dance group, Benedna.
“One of the things I’m so excited about is that there will be nine performances representing eight different countries,” Boubiya said. “It shows how diverse PSU and the Portland area are.” He said the dance group, which is the opening act for the event, includes students from Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, and incorporates a belly dancer.
Throughout the night a fair representing different countries will be open on the Smith Center second floor. At each booth, students dressed in traditional clothing will offer desserts and discuss their country with participants. Booths will house various activities like teaching basic origami, name writing in different languages and some will show artifacts and maps.
Increasing cultural awareness of the over 1,200 international students around campus is one of the main goals of the event.
“The purposes of International Night are to introduce different cultures to the public and to learn to appreciate and respect them,” said another organizer, Pao Yun Huang.
Boubiya said he believes this will help to break stereotypes students hold against each other. The night is also designed for international students to meet American-born students.
“We hope friendships will develop that will help everyone learn about each other,” Boubiya said. “We all cherish our diversity, and that makes us similar.”
Most of the Organization of International Student’s annual budget goes into creating this event. The group subsidizes the price of the entry tickets ($8 for students, $9 for non-students and $4 for entertainment only).
“The tickets probably cover 25 percent of what it costs to put on the event,” Boubiya said. Money made at the door is funneled back into the OIS budget to help the group regain lost finances.
The organizers plan to fill the Smith Ballroom’s 750-person capacity and said that goal is plausible.
“For the last two or three years, we’ve had to turn people away,” said OIS adviser Jill Townley.
The group said volunteers are still needed, especially to help with backstage directions during the performances and fashion show.