June 3, 2023

International Celebration Week

The International Student Organization (ISO) gathered for a celebration On Nov. 19th at NCC’s Lipkin Theater.

The occasion, the featured event of International Celebration Week, had the goal of bringing together all international and American students alike.

The event falls on the week before Thanksgiving every year and has become a tradition for about 6 or 7 years. It was set up to help spread diversity on campus and raise awareness of different cultures.

The day of the event at Lipkin there was a rush around the theater as the International Student Organization scurried to get ready—each and every one of them making last minute adjustments and changes, hoping that everything would turn out as well as they hoped.

No one was stationary for long, each ISO member doing multiple jobs at once, from testing microphones, to checking the PowerPoints, to making sure the camera was adjusted perfectly for pictures.

The investment in this event was immense, and it was clear in each of their faces as they dashed around that this event was important to them. Glancing around the theater one could see so many different kinds of human beings, each of them interested in learning about the other.  So many people came together, unified for this event and cause, that in and of itself it was an achievement for the ISO.

The event started late, but that was forgotten when the entire ISO came out together holding high a flag from each represented country. They stood in honor of Paris, France, in light of the Friday the 13th terrorist attacks. The French national anthem played.  Upon its conclusion applause erupted from the audience.

The President of ISO, Muhammad Yousaf, came out to thank everyone for coming, and asked that before we continue we have a moment of silence not only for France, but all the areas in the world that are suffering.  The quieting was immediate, the feeling felt throughout the theater: unity.

Unity in the sense that—yes—all of us as a whole felt deeply in our hearts for the innocent that are suffering.

After the moment of silence ended, a delicate applause descended and the event continued on.

The first presentation featured students from the country of Tunisia, the presentation starting out rough when the wrong PowerPoint was played.  As the audience waited in awkward silence, one of the students rushed to the stage to explain an experience he has had often being from Tunisia.

He stated that no one believes that he is African, because they don’t realize that Tunisia is in Africa, and finished by making a joke about them investing in a map.  By time the Tunisian savior had rushed back to his seat, the correct PowerPoint was set up and the presentation commenced.

Each presentation that was given by each of the students was unique in its own fashion: they talked about what their favorite facts, foods, clothing and cultural norms were from their respective countries, captivating the audience over and over.  The dances and different songs that were sung throughout the event was what seemed to draw the audience’s attention the most.

The presentations finished, ISO members announced they would be playing something distinctly American, and yet universal: the Cha- Cha Slide.

They called the entire audience down to the floor, requesting they join them in dancing. The dance is widely known in many places, not just America, and the audience cheered on. In a matter of seconds everyone was on the stage Cha- Cha-ing real smooth.  From the Pakistani students to the students from Philadelphia. They were all dancing and having a ball during that moment, different, and yet again a sense of unity in the shared moment.

Afterwards, outside the theater there was food waiting for everyone to try.  A variety of dishes from different countries and areas on each plate: Pakistani, Tunisian, Hispanic, Mediterranean, and so on.  The line of people was eager to get a taste, and it was not a small line.  It stretched all the way around to the door of the theater, like the letter S.  And within the line one saw many excited students asking the ISO members questions, giving them compliments, attempting to share, understand, relate. Bonding with them.

All in all, this year’s International Celebration Week was a beautiful success. From enthralling performances by each and every ISO member, to students so fascinated they couldn’t wait for more, The ISO accomplished the spread of unity and diversity as they had intended.

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