The flavor of the Middle East comes to the Sylvania Campus of Portland Community College on Sunday, Aug. 11, when it again sponsors the Mahrajan – Arabic for festival – hosted by the Arab American Cultural Center of Oregon (www.araboregon.org).
Now in its fourth year, 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.
“Portland Community College has been so good to our organization, in allowing us to host the event at Sylvania Campus and in promoting the festival to its faculty, staff and students,” said Hadi Nouredine, president of AACCO and a graduate of Sylvania.
A dentist who owns and operates four successful offices throughout the Portland metropolitan area, Nouredine was honored with one of PCC’s 50 Diamond Alum Awards during the college’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2011.
“The Sylvania Campus is a wonderful, central location and offers a great venue that can accommodate the crowd, which attracts about 1,100 each year,” he said.
Arab cuisine from 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.
“I have to give a shout out to PCC Sylvania – in particular, Dr. Linda Gerber, Sylvania’s president – who has been so supportive of the festival over the years, in part because Sylvania serves many students from the Middle East,” said Kate Chester, public relations manager for PCC and vice president of AACCO. “We are incredibly grateful.”
In addition to PCC Sylvania, the festival this year will be co-sponsored by Oregon Health & Science University. Several volunteers from Middle Eastern student groups and clubs at PCC and Portland State University are set to participate, as well.
“The Mahrajan is a way to showcase the arts, entertainment, food, traditions and most importantly, the spirit of Oregon’s Arab-Americans,” said 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 added.