The beauty of the Middle East pays a visit to Sylvania via ‘Mahrajan’
Photos and Story by Kate Chester
This year’s Mahrajan – Arabic for festival – boasted record-breaking attendance, with well over 1,200 attendees to the Sylvania Campus where the annual festival was held on Aug. 11.
Hosted by the Arab American Cultural Center of Oregon the Mahrajan is the largest local celebration of Arab heritage and culture. Sponsored by PCC Sylvania and Oregon Health & Science University, the event was held in the Performing Arts Center Lobby and Courtyard and went from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“We are so grateful to PCC Sylvania for again sponsoring our festival,” said Hadi Nouredine, president of AACCO and a graduate of PCC who is now a practicing dentist with four offices in the Portland metro area. “Throughout the day, I heard over and over what a brilliant choice it was to have the festival here, because Sylvania is such a convenient and well known location.
“PCC has been so good to AACCO over the years; it’s through PCC’s support that our festival has been able to grow and expand,” he said.
The fun-filled day included Arab cuisine from Taste of Lebanon, Arabic coffee, tea and refreshments from Sesame Donuts, an Arab souq (bazaar), arts and crafts, henna painting, face painting for children, 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.
Former Oregon Governor Victor Atiyeh – the first governor of Arab descent elected anywhere in the United States, who served from 1979 to 1987 – was honored by AACCO in the afternoon. He was followed by Jeremy Brown, PCC’s president, and Leslie Garcia, director of the OHSU Center for Diversity & Inclusion, both of whom gave a welcome and brief presentation.
“It was an honor for Portland Community College to host such a beautiful, lively event at the Sylvania Campus,” said Brown.
“PCC, particularly the Sylvania Campus, serves many students from the Middle East, so I’m delighted that the college can sponsor the Arab American Cultural Center of Oregon’s festival and celebrate such a vibrant culture,” he said.
This is the second year for the festival at Sylvania; the previous two years it was held at the Fulton Community Center in southwest Portland.