Saudi Arabian National Day

Link for signed video: https://www.facebook.com/buffn.blue/videos/1937635616503120/?hc_ref=ARRHCK_NUK_0ha_fJVLyNWQdG78K8slKTlb5wOJyt60cUkh5H2NiuhiMVAoKO7H53mI&fref=nf

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Gallaudet is home to many students all across the world. Students from all across the globe has all brought their own unique culture to Gallaudet. The cultures cluster together and then thrive together as we celebrate them. Saudi Student Organization (SSO) is an organization where many students can relate to.

On September 22, SSO hosted an event at the Ole Jim. In this event, they unveiled their ways of life and how neighboring countries made Saudi Arabia the way it is now. It was basically an introduction to National Saudi Arabia Day which is celebrated the day after, September 23. The country Saudi Arabia was founded on September 23, 1932. SSO students kicked off the event by having an SSO student sing Saudi Arabia’s own National Anthem in Saudi Sign Language. They then explained about monarch successors, starting with the first King Abdulaziz Al- Saud ending with the current King Salman Bin Abdulaziz.

GAMES ABOUT SAUDI CULTURES

After explaining about the Kings, the students moved onto Saudi Arabia related games. The first game was a competition between two males to put a Shemagh and Agal on in an appropriate way (photo below). 

Shemagh (the red “scarf”) and Agal (the black “rope”)

Saudi Arabia has an unspoken system on which ways to put them on according to different statuses (for example: age, occupation, etc.). The game went on for several rounds and the participants were awarded prizes. This game is strictly for males only because the headwear is designed specifically for males. The second game was for females to put on Abaya, which is strictly for females only.

Hijab (the headdress) and Abaya (black dress)

This game had also went on for several rounds. The event goers got a general idea of the apparels that has been a tradition for Saudi Arabia for a while. We then moved onto a game in which I would like to call “Water Bottle Challenge.” Participants would spread a chunk of vaseline across their hands and attempt to open a water bottle and then chug it down. At the end of the game sessions, two children were called on the stage to play the “Ball Shuffle” game. In this game, the children had to pay attention to the ball which would be hidden under a cup as the game operator shuffles multiple cups. Then, each of children would proceed to pick a cup to reveal if there’s a ball underneath. For each games there were prizes relating to Saudi Arabia culture given out.

QUESTIONS

With that, the game sessions have finished and we move onto to the questions part of the event. A lot of interesting questions were asked, and lot of interesting answers were provided.

Q: Why all women wear scarves around their head? I heard that women in Saudi Arabia will get hanged if they don’t wear scarves. Is that true?

A: That is definitely not true, the women at Saudi Arabia aren’t required to wear the HIJAB. There is no laws enforcing that, wearing hijabs are usually from cultural and religious upbringing. Most families usually wear them because they want to.

Q: Are all women required to wear black clothings called abayas?

A: Back then that was true, but now the culture is changing. Women are allowed to wear different colors, but white is only for men.

Q: What jobs can women have? Can they drive?

A: For many years the women are only allowed to be teachers and nurses. Recently Saudi Arabia started to allow women to work in stores. Saudi Arabia is currently working on allowing women to drive.

UPDATE: As of today Saudi Arabia has agreed to start letting women drive in June 2018

If you happen to be curious about the Saudi Arabian culture, then ask any Saudi Student Organization students! They are more than glad to provide you the knowledge you’re looking for.

FOOD

The hands of questions have come to an end and we moved on to one of the best parts of this event. We had the privilege to try some of the different types of Arab food. Dominant food choice in Saudi Arabia are rice, lentil, hummus, fishes, and poultries. There were many more foods offered in this event as well, such as potatoes, salads, baklavas, and more. As the foods were sampled (not exactly in sample portions, but rather in meal sized portions) we all discussed about the food and the culture.

After the event, we expressed our gratitude on a poster. There were too many of us prolonging the stay because it was too good. Leaving was the last thing on our mind to the point where SSO students had to friendly remind us that we have other things to attend to. SSO organization wants to remind you that the event is an annual thing!

SSO HIGHLIGHT

When started:  2013 August

Why started: To support Saudi students and families. To ensure they feel welcomed to United States. SSO primarily exists to provide comfort for the people who came from Saudi countries and also to spread awareness about the Saudi cultures. There are currently approximately 360 Saudi Student Organizations in United States. SSO used to be called SSC, the club changed into an organization in Spring of 2016.

EDITOR’S THOUGHTS

I honestly was not expecting to learn this much about Saudi Arabian Culture in a single session. Everything was great, and I learned that SA is relatively young. I learned about the SA cultural system, and I learned about their food choices which was GREAT! Please note the emphasis on GREAT! The food experience had made me realize that although my food choice was not that particular, I still have a long way to go. I can certify that Arab food is now one of my favorite dishes! But my most favorite part was how SSO students interacted with each other and with the audience. I felt so warm and welcomed there. SSO taught me that diversity and differences only enrich the experience of being alive. That evening was definitely a mind opening experience for a white and sheltered deaf person. Learning about other cultures is an essential way for anyone to develop social understanding and mutual empathy. I came in with nothing and I came out with a filled belly along with handful of cultural awareness and friends. I wholeheartedly recommend everyone to show up for any events that SSO will host in the future. After all, you didn’t come Gallaudet just to party, right?

 

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