Regional Night is an occasional event that takes place every year at Thunderbird School of Global Management. Last year, students had a blast with a whole week of festivities for Thunderbird’s 75th anniversary, all of which celebrated different regional cultures around the world. This year the regional night event was a one-day event to celebrate the Middle East/North Africa region (MENA), hence the name MENA night.
A long-cherished Thunderbird tradition honoring cultural diversity, the Regional Night celebration featured incredible cuisine, culture, traditions, art, and performances from this particular part of the world. Although the night was off to an unpredictable start unlike the normal Arizona weather (that day it rained and was super windy), the event still occurred with only a few slight changes despite the uncertainty in everyone’s minds. The event was shifted to the inside of our Thunderbird Global Headquarters, providing a glimpse of our building to all people in attendance.
The stage was set up in the global forum and all tabling for the different clubs was located on the second floor. The university also opened the glass doors of the global forum to create more audience space. Upon entering the building, students registered themselves at the door and received a coupon for free food from a food truck located outside of the building.
The event started with a flag ceremony where students represented flags of various Middle Eastern and North African countries. Each student also gave a brief about the flag that they represented.
After the flag ceremony, we had different types of dances, from Tahtib (a form of martial arts) to belly dancing. The performances were kicked off by Tanisha Agarwal with an individual performance. Another performance was done by Prerna Rodney, who gained momentum in the audience by having them groove to the beats of the music along with her. Next was a fashion show to conclude the ceremony, which was a timeline of how clothes in the MENA region have progressed over time. After all of the performances were done, all attendees came onto the dance floor and shook a leg to middle Eastern/African music.
The tabling on the second floor was another place of awe. The original Africa lounge of Thunderbird was cleared out for both university clubs and outside guests to set up their stalls. At the tables, we had a henna stall that all girls were fawning over and standing in the queue for their turn to get henna done. Even Das Tor added a bit of entertainment at their table where if people could answer trivia questions about the Middle Eastern region, they could grab a bite of traditional middle eastern food. We also had a table that served dates and Arabic-style coffee. Another location attendees crowded over was the food truck named New Sinibad, which served a delicious array of dishes ranging from chicken shawarma to falafel.
The event was a blast where everyone who attended had a great time and appreciated all the cultural representation displayed by Thunderbird. The Thunderbird Student Government handled the event wonderfully despite the weather problems and out-set up the original space showered with water. Everyone made the most out of the event and enjoyed the food, dance and music from Middle Eastern and North African cultures.