Hosted by the Iranian Student Association (ISA), the Lebanese Club, GT Hillel and the Turkish Student Organization, the Middle East Buzzar aimed to teach the student body about the cultures of the Middle East.
“Essentially, the Buzzar is a chance for Middle Eastern organizations and people from Middle Eastern countries to get to know each other. It’s also a chance for Tech students to get to know our cultures and for us to break stereotypes,” said Melissa Parham, ISA President and a third-year BCHM major.
According to Parham, given the current political climate, people are often surprised by what they learn about Middle Eastern culture.
“Recently, Middle Eastern countries haven’t had the best image in the media, so it’s nice for people to see what Middle Eastern people actually are. It seems like a lot of the time it’s exactly the opposite of what people think [we are],” Parham said.
Aytac Yaraneri, culture chair for the Turkish Student Organization and a third-year ECE major, agreed.
“We don’t ride to school on camels, we don’t live in tents, we actually live a life that’s quite similar to [other cultures],” Yaraneri said.
However, Yaraneri said that the event is just as much about reaching out to other Middle Eastern students.
“Another reason [for the Buzzar] is that we’ve heard stories from other colleges about how a lot of the people involved in the Buzzar—Israelis, Palestinians, Iranians, and Lebanese—don’t get along, but we wanted to show that as Tech students, we do get along and can actually work together,” Yaraneri said.
According to Parham, the week was originally just supposed to last from Wednesday to Friday, but it instead expanded to fill the entire week in conjunction with International Education week, which is being hosted by the Office of International Education (OIE).
The Buzzar’s events started out with traditional Turkish coffee at OIE’s International Coffee Hour on Monday, Nov. 12.
Belly-dancing lessons were given on Tuesday, Nov. 13, and drew a sizable crowd.
Parham estimated 30 to 35 people attended, the majority of whom were not of Middle Eastern descent.
The next two days played host to cultural exhibits on Skiles Walkway and in the Student Center, as well as one more event apiece. One night was Buzzgammon, an annual backgammon tournament—a game that has strong ties to Middle Eastern countries. Thursday was the Buzzar’s Hookah Night.
The week wraps up with the annual Plaka Party, held at Taverna Plaka on Friday, Nov. 19 at 9 p.m.
A big part of the week has been bringing together existing traditions that the organizations involved had already established individually.
Buzzgammon, Hookah Night and the Plaka Party are all events that have a history on campus, so a big part of the Buzzar was just bringing them together into one collective event.
According to Yaraneri, many of the events were focused on students who otherwise had very little exposure to Middle Eastern cultures.
Using food, dance and social events, Buzzar’s attendees included a wide variety of students.