‘International Night with a Latin Flair’ brings Hispanic Month to a close

Pinatas, flags and colorful tablecloths decorated the room.

By Andrew Wernette

Opening to the serenade of a mariachi band, Oakland University’s “International Night with a Latin Flair” kicked off Friday evening, Oct. 24.

The tables and ceiling of the Banquet Rooms were festooned with different colors and flags to honor the countries of the world. There was also a stage and a dance floor set up for the evening’s list of entertainment, which was slanted toward Latin American culture.

Along with celebrating world cultures, the occasion served as the final event of Hispanic Month.

Students immediately got in line for the buffet, which included hummus, paella, quesadillas and baklava.

Throughout the event, the announcers awarded door prizes to audience members via numbered tickets. Many of the prizes were pumpkins grown by Student Organic Farmers.

Tables featuring setups of different internationally-focused student organizations lined the walls. One of them was the Omani Students Association that celebrates Oman, a country near Yemen and Saudi Arabia. A few of the club’s members stood in traditional Omani dress to answer questions.

Despite only having 11 people in their organization so far, Mohammed Anaraimi and his fellow Omanis said they was glad to be represented at International Night.

“Oakland’s the best for us,” Amaraimi said. “We are happy to be here.”

Another group at the event was the Hispanic American Leadership Organization, or HALO. The aim is the group is to bring tuition equality for undocumented immigrants at Oakland, as many universities and colleges in Michigan have already done.

“It’s been pretty busy,” member Daniela Watts said of her table’s traffic. “Everybody’s really going for it.”

Other student organizations represented at the event included the Lebanese Student Association, China Club, Saudi Student Association and UNICEF at OU.

As students and guests mingled about, the Oakland University Steel Band assembled to play some traditional Cuban Music on steel drums. Professor Patrick Fitzgibbon, who led the ensemble, said that the Center for Student Activities had approached them to perform because “they know we have a lot of world music activity at OU.”

The Steel Band also likes to give extra performances around campus during the school year, he said.

“It was a blast,” Fitzgibbon said.

The band’s performance was followed by a few Argentinean piano numbers played by student Karen Li. A crowd then formed on the dance floor to get active to Zumba, led by Lifetime Fitness instructor Sandra Bracco-Cavallin from Argentina.

The Omani Student Association also showed off a dance of its own, set to traditional music.

“I just like the diversity of the community that’s here,” CSA director and event organizer Jean Ann Miller said. She spoke about how students, staff, faculty and families alike had come out to the event.

This is the first time that International Night had occurred during the fall semester, Miller said. She added that there will be a similar event next semester, although it will be in the form of a “global market.”

“We want to spice it up,” Miller said.