April 24, 2008

'Midwest Games 2008' coming to SIUC in May

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Hundreds of young adults from all over North America are coming to Southern Illinois University Carbondale Memorial Day weekend for Midwest Games 2008. It's an Olympic-style festival that will attract Malaysian and international college students while providing a cultural window for the community.

"We are delighted that the SIUC Malaysian Student Association worked diligently in preparing, submitting and receiving acceptance for SIUC as the site for this summer's Midwest Games," said Larry H. Dietz, vice chancellor for student affairs. "Our staff is prepared to be of assistance to this student group in hosting the games. I think visitors to SIUC and Carbondale will be impressed with our facilities, services and hospitality. In the coming weeks we look forward to working with the SIUC students in making this proposal a reality for all of those coming here to participate and enjoy the University, the community and the region."

Registration is taking place through April 30 for the games, slated for May 22-26 at a variety of venues on campus. Dating to 1970, the Midwest Games serves as a cultural showcase for Malaysia as well as a unique opportunity for Malaysian university students to gather and participate with one another in sporting contests, a cultural show and more. The Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education through the Malaysian Student Department in Chicago is providing funding for the event.

"We are quite honored to have this opportunity to showcase not only the wonderful facilities available at SIUC, but true southern hospitality – Saluki style!" said Carla E. Coppi, interim director of International Programs and Services at SIUC.

A student committee is orchestrating the Midwest Games, found online at www.midwestgames2008.com. About 1,000 participants, predominately from the Midwest but from as far away as Canada, Florida and California, are expected. Organizers say it's the largest Malaysian student gathering in North America. Malaysian dignitaries will likely attend as well and where permitted by the venue, the public can enjoy the sporting competitions.

"Our group feels very proud that SIUC has the opportunity to host the games," said Aaron J. Victor, a graduate student in electrical engineering from Teluk Intan, Malaysia. Victor is also president of the SIUC International Student Council and director of the 2008 Midwest Games.

"This is a very big event," Victor added, noting that the occasion not only gives his group a chance to prove they're capable of coordinating a significant happening, but also allows them the chance to showcase the University they're proud of.

"We're hopeful it could even lead to an increase in international student enrollment," Victor said. "It gives us the opportunity to give something back to the University and show our Saluki pride."

The Midwest Games 2008 schedule includes all sorts of games including chess, bowling and billiards, basketball, soccer, volleyball, swimming, track, badminton, table tines, a board game played with marbles called congkak and a volleyball kick type game known as sepak takraw. The games kick off with an opening ceremony similar to those held at the Olympics as well as a Midwest Buffet featuring traditional foods and special entertainment.

A highlight of the games will also be Midwest Night, a cultural extravaganza highlighting Malaysia, its people, music, dance, fashion and more. It's a celebration of Malaysian diversity and a showcase for participating students from universities across the United States. A traditional closing night ceremony is also on tap.