SJP hosts Palfest to celebrate middle eastern culture and the Palestinian struggle

By: 
Reno Waswil
Date: 
Sunday, April 16th, 2017

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is a student-run organization on campus serving to celebrate Palestinian culture within the Illinois Tech community, as well as to speak about and protest the struggle and injustice in the region stemming, to a large part, from its conflict with the nation it Israel. On Wednesday, April 12 beginning at 6 p.m., SJP hosted Palfest: “a cultural festival to showcase the beauty and tradition of Palestine.”

Hosted in the Hermann Hall Expo outside of the Academic Resource Center (ARC), several decorated round tables were set up between booths on one side of the area and a stage towards the windows on the other side. Passers were welcomed with open arms to come by, sit down, and take part in the festivities. These festivities included touching performances by two Palestinian spoken word artists who described their intricate and powerful connections with their culture and how that culture shapes their personal identities, as well as their infuriation and disgust at the injustice in the region.

Additionally, as SJP often does, trivia about the culture, region, history, and politics of Palestine were asked with the possibility for attendees to win prizes for correct answers. Most notably, a game in which tables competed to be the first to correctly sort provided slips of paper with statements on them into true/false categories won one table prize buckets filled with chocolate, olive oil, and other treats.

Palestinian and Middle-Eastern decor, art, music, as well as henna tattoo artists, calligraphers, a photobooth, ample food, and even a Snapchat filter embellished the event to the large crowd that it drew. Each of the tables was decorated with informational and inspirational statements, along with the important and symbolic decorations, such as the pattern of the table cloths representing the struggle of the Palestinian people.

After dinner and dessert had been served, and time to eat and socialize was taken, the festival concluded with one more demonstration of Palestinian culture, a performance of the Arabic folk dance Dabka to aptly conclude the educational and enjoyable evening.