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Third annual ‘Mahrajan’ from the Arab American Cultural Center of Oregon comes to PCC Sylvania on Sept. 22
Photos and Story by Kate Chester
The Sylvania Campus of Portland Community College will get a bit more international come Saturday, Sept. 22, when it serves as the presenting sponsor of the third annual “Mahrajan” – Arabic for festival – which is hosted and organized by the Arab American Cultural Center of Oregon (www.araboregon.org).
The festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center, Lobby and Courtyard at the Sylvania Campus (12000 SW 49th Avenue, Portland, Ore., 97219). Free parking is available in lots #9 and #11.
This is the first year for the festival at Sylvania; the previous two years it was held at the Fulton Community Center in southwest Portland.
“We are thrilled to have the mahrajan at PCC Sylvania,” said Hadi Nouredine, president of AACCO and a graduate of Sylvania, who is now a dentist who owns and operates four successful offices throughout the Portland metro area.
“The Sylvania Campus is a wonderful, central location and offers a great venue that can accommodate the crowd, which has topped more than 1,100 attendees in years past,” he said.
Arab cuisine from Aladdin’s Café and Taste of Lebanon, Arabic coffee, tea and refreshments from Sesame Donuts, an Arab souq (bazaar), arts and crafts, henna painting, cooking demonstrations, an art show, music, dancing, a fashion show of Arab attire from throughout the Middle East, children’s activities and a raffle for prizes – all are part of this year’s mahrajan.
The event, which is open to the public, is alcohol-free and tobacco-free. An entrance donation of $5 includes three raffle tickets; individual raffle tickets are available for purchase on site at $2 each. Food tickets are available for purchase on site, as well.
“We’ve helped sponsor the event for the past two years, in part because we serve many students from the Middle East,” said Linda Gerber, Sylvania Campus president.
“I’m delighted that AACCO can host the event at our campus this year. It’s a natural partnership – several of our students attend or participate in the event, which celebrates a culture that is integral to the Portland community at large,” she said.
In addition to PCC Sylvania, AACCO has received support from other local institutions of higher education, specifically Portland State University’s Middle East Studies Center. Several volunteers from Middle Eastern student groups and clubs at both institutions are set to participate.
“The mahrajan is a way to showcase the arts, entertainment, food, traditions and most importantly, the spirit of Oregon’s Arab-Americans,” added Nouredine.
“As the largest local celebration of Arab heritage and culture, the mahrajan aims to reflect the diversity – and the contributions – of Arab-Americans to Oregon’s cultural landscape,” he said.