Untold Stories Guide

Ettihad Cultural Center

The Ettihad Cultural Center (ECC) is Oregon State University’s newest cultural center. Founded by students in the spring of 2012, it is the first of its kind in the nation. (1) The term Ettihad means “unity” or “alliance” and its root word can be found in the Farsi, Urdu, Hebrew, and Arabic languages. The ECC represents and supports the unique needs of OSU students who identify with the cultures of central and southwestern Asia, as well as northern Africa. It serves as “a cultural interpreter and cross-cultural resource for all OSU students, with the goal to facilitate the academic success and social integration of the students.” (2) The ECC office is currently located in the newly built Student Experience Center (SEC).

This unique space was created through the relentless work and unwavering advocacy of the founder and first president Lubna Khan and her very dedicated team. Among the staff were emerging leaders like Aasya Moussaoui and Sultan Almaghrabi, who created the public profile and authored the first ECC budget; Ali Alahmari and Aziz Almathami, who worked tirelessly to strengthen the ties with the community ECC represented; Yasmeen Alzubeidi, whose work ethic and involvement attracted other women to ECC; and finally, Rayan AlRasheed and Abdulrahman AlSulaim, who continued to lead ECC as the first Student Leadership Liaisons. The diversity and range of experiences that these leaders exhibited strengthened the vision of ECC, which is to serve as a prototype for cross-cultural unity across the countries represented. (3)

The Ettihad Cultural Center was founded as a result of growing need for representation and support for students who identified with the cultures of southwestern Asia, central Asia, and northern Africa. (4) The goal was to create a resource hub for these students, domestic or international, and to advocate for their needs on campus. To ensure their academic success and social integration, ECC hosts various events throughout the school year as well as during the summer for students who stay in Corvallis. Among the most well attended events is the Annual Ettihad Cultural Festival, first celebrated in the spring of 2013, which attracts over 2,000 students. Over 20 countries are represented at this vivid event full of delicious food, cultural education, and live entertainment. (5)

Events like Women in Action and Weekly Table Talks ensure the continued learning and engagement of the community. These events serve to undo the stereotypes often associated with the countries represented by ECC and create a space for open- dialogue. (6) Other social events like Bowling Nights and Trivia attract students from all backgrounds to get to know each other in an informal, fun-filled setting. (7) Some of the new programs at ECC include the Ettihad Library and the Ettihad Mentorship Program, both of which focus on the academic success of the students and offer a collaborative environment for such endeavors. (8)

For most, the ECC is a space they can call home. Safia Khan, one of the first members of the ECC, summates the ECC message:

I feel like whoever’s has been a part of ECC and whoever’s has been a part
of OSU, will always remember ECC as a very significant source of removing
misconceptions about other cultures; and not just that, but also creating a
friendly environment for people to come in and feel accepted. (9)

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