BY JAKOB BECKER
Members of the Kuwaiti Student Organization (KSO) have begun preparing for their first on-campus celebration of the Kuwaiti National Day and Kuwaiti Liberation Day. There will be a showcase of Kuwaiti culture in the Vaughn Center Courtyard on Feb. 25, where students can try traditional foods and garb while learning more about the country’s history.
KSO itself is a new organization on campus. Founded in the Spring of 2017, it currently only hosts nine members that make up its executive board. The organization seeks to keep itself limited to those seats for now, until they have solidified their intentions for the organization for future students. They hope to open general membership within coming months.
Their goal for the event is to bring all students together and further an appreciation for campus diversity.
“The National Day and Liberation Day are not just for Kuwaiti students,” Bader Al Hammad, senior business major and president of KSO, said. “We want to open up our celebration of the holiday to anyone who is willing to learn about Kuwaiti culture and how KSO wants to bring that to UT.”
For those not familiar with the holiday, The National Day and Liberation Day are the Kuwaiti equivalent to July 4 in the U.S.
“National Day marks the end of Iraqi occupation of Kuwait during the Gulf War, and the Liberation Day marks the following day when Kuwait regained its independence,” said Aziz Almutawa, senior business major and head of KSO’s Academic Committee.
These days were not earned without a cost to the Kuwaiti people. That is why KSO has become so adamant about sharing the history of the twin holidays, Almutawa said
“We still see the impact of this war today in Kuwait,” Al Hammad said, himself a Kuwaiti native. “Mines are a consistent problem that still need to be cleaned up; some areas are still in ruins. We have overcome these things, but we want others to understand so we can prevent these kinds of actions from happening in the future.”
There are a total of 150 Kuwaiti students on campus, and KSO hopes to gather as many of those students as they can, according to Almutawa. Showcases similar to the one on Feb. 25 are just the beginning for how KSO hopes to attract those members.
“As a Kuwaiti organization, we need to offer these things for our students,” Hamed Alrweih, senior marketing major and secretary of KSO, said. “Secondly, we need to offer these things for our country. We need to represent our country as a culture — a good culture, a good country. As members of that society, we need to represent that on campus. Honestly, we had a lot of students — almost all the Kuwaiti students asking us ‘Please guys, do something for the Kuwaiti National Day.’”
International college students, just like any other college student, experience a period of adjustment to university life. According to Almutawa, KSO means to put a stop to this by setting an importance on diversity and welcoming others through their events.
“Kuwaiti students, being from a predominantly Islamic country, we receive a lot of prejudice,” Almutawa said. “The TSA officers, if they don’t like you, or get a bad feeling — that’s it. Your visa is taken, and you are barred from the U.S. for five years. But not everyone has these experiences; there are plenty of good experiences. KSO wants to ensure those kinds of experiences, to make a change.”
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