CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University’s newest cultural center is having a grand opening celebration on Tuesday, Oct. 28, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Memorial Union Horizon Room (49).
The Ettihad Cultural Center, located in Snell Hall 424, is a cross-cultural resource for OSU students who have a cultural or ethnic background in central and southwestern Asia and northern Africa, and for those who are interested in learning more about those cultures and regions.
Ettihad means “union“ in Arabic, but the root word is also found in Hebrew and Urdu. Because the center serves Muslim, Hindu and Christian students from countries as diverse as India, Morocco and Saudi Arabia, this cross-cultural word is a good representation for the diverse swath of students who will find a ‘home away from home’ at the center, officials say.
Rayan AlRasheed, student leadership liaison for the Ettihad Cultural Center, said the effort originated as a student group two years ago and its annual cultural events were so well-attended – the last event attracted more than 2,000 attendees – that students convinced OSU administrators that creating a cultural center would serve a growing group of underrepresented students.
Exactly how many students is hard to assess, AlRasheed said, because there are so many countries and groups involved.
“We have to deal with a lot of misconceptions,” AlRasheed said. “We don’t just represent the Middle East, and we’re not solely an Arab or Muslim student group.” In fact, due to the regional nature of the center, AlRasheed said Ettihad is the first cultural center of its kind on the West Coast.
“We’re a prototype,” he said. “We want to show that we can be united, and that we want to work together.”
The center has a close relationship with a number of student groups, as well as INTO OSU, which serves a large number of international students from the represented regions. AlRasheed said students coming from central and south Asia often have trouble knowing how to connect with the broader OSU and Corvallis community, and his hope is Ettihad can bridge that gap.
The center has no paid staff director or faculty adviser, and its housing in Snell is temporary. Plans call for the center to move into the building now housing the Asian & Pacific Cultural Center once the students move into their newly constructed home during Winter Term. Eventually, AlRasheed hopes the ECC will have its own new building, but for now their staff’s focus is on spreading word that the center exists.
“We want people to come to the center and meet people they don’t know, and to allow us to show the community who we are, what our mission is and what our vision is for the future.”
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/ECC.OSU