The Middle Eastern Studies Night has been going on for more than 15 years, and each year about 75 students come to the event to enjoy Middle Eastern cuisine, and to find out the winners of the research grants.
About 20 years ago, King Faud of Saudi Arabia gave about 20 million dollars to the state of Arkansas to promote Middle East Study activities within the state; Arkansas State was one of the universities chosen.
When ASU hosted a Saudi Arabian custom center on campus, the Saudi Arabian group that visited, donated more than $800,000 to ASU, according to Gil Fowler, chair of the Department of Journalism and Middle Eastern studies committee member.
"The money was then put into an endowment and interest or funds generate from the endowment each year," said William Roe, associate dean of the College of Business. "When ASU received the funds we decided to use funds for research travel to other countries for faculty, staff and students."
Research grants are given to students who send proposals to the Middle East Studies Committee before the end of January each year. The proposals ask the committee for funds so students can go to the country of their choice to research it and help people in the country.
The presentation will talk about the research the winners accomplished and how the opportunity affected the students and faculty chosen. Door prizes at the event will be given.
"The event is open to faculty, staff, students, and even community members that are interested," Roe said.
"It's an opportunity to learn about the adventures students and faculty have had on their country visits. Good evening to share ideas and look at the possibilities that are open to all of us," Fowler said.
For as long as Fowler can remember, Middle Eastern night has always been a great success. There are always a variety of people who attend, from international students to Native Americans to natives of Arkansas.
"Learning about others is how you make it in the real world tomorrow," Fowler said.
"The Middle Eastern Studies committee consist of faculty and representatives from different colleges on the campus that administer the funds," Roe said.
The committee members include: Roe (College of Business), Jerry Farris (Department of Biological Sciences), Thomas Fiala (Department of Teacher Education), Gil Fowler (Department of Journalism), Erik Gilbert (Department of History), Bill Humphrey (Department of Agricultural Studies), Kathleen Carrick (Department of Social Work), and John Salvest (Department of Art).
"Getting a research grant will help you learn more about other country's economies, governments and the society in general," Roe said.
If the proposal submitted gives a good argument and has a reasonable budget, then the recipient will be chosen.
The question Fowler usually asks when reviewing a proposal is whether it is going to work and will it be a positive experience.
"We will not turn people down on the subject matter, we are open to almost any idea," Fowler said. "Got to do your homework though."
Students who want to consider submitting a proposal should do thorough research about their topic.
"If we see things that wont work we will critique it and tell you what you should fix. We are not out there to say no. We are here to say yes, so you can do the things that you want to," Fowler said.
This year five proposals were sent to the committee. Three want to venture to Turkey, one group wants to go to the Jordan and another to Ethiopia.
Not only do students get to see if their proposal was chosen, but they get to experience a dinner of a different culture. "(They get) a better understanding of the Middle Eastern cuisine. We never know how many students are going to show, but usually a pretty good turnout of students." Roe said.