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Journey through the lens of multicultural students

Editor’s Note: The reporter is a member of the International Student Organization and went to the Washington trip.

On a rainy Saturday morning, on Oct. 11, members of the International Student Organization (ISO) club went on an adventurous trip to Washington, D.C. Two white vans left from NCC and traveled to Holiday Inn in Arlington, Virginia, taking the group about three and a half hours to arrive. Although it was a long drive, the flavorful chat and laughter among the international students made it worth it. It was interesting for members to share their cultural music and teach native languages simultaneously while in the vans. Still, it was an extraordinary journey filled with enhanced cultural exchange between students.

The day the group arrived at the hotel everyone was enthusiastic to get ready and explore the iconic places in Washington, D.C. since the stay was only for three days.

Their first step was to take the subway train and the first destination was the wide view of the North Lawn of White House, surrounded by hundreds of tourists and security. Some students went to take a look at the South side of the White House as well. It was breathtaking to observe the semicircular driveway, circular pool of fountain in the center, and the Neoclassical design of the White House.

The second location the group visited was the Washington monument, surrounded by countess U.S. flags. Most people do not know that plans for the monument began before Washington was even elected president. Afterwards, the group went to the monumental Lincoln memorial, which was surrounded by local residents as well as what appeared to be thousands of tourists.

Other historical places that they visited on the first day as a group include the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Capital building, the World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The second day consisted of U.S. Botanic Garden, the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space Museum. The most significant value about each of these exhibits was the history behind them and how uniquely they were created.

“My favorite part was the National Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space Museum because they are related to my major,” said Ali Abdulhayoglu, an Engineering major from Turkey. He previously went to Washington, D.C with the group before this semester. However, the government unexpectedly shut down by the time he arrived with his club members. Consequently, they could not go to any museums or government places.

“This semester was a different experience and feeling for me. This time I came to the Washington, D.C. as the President of the ISO Club, which gave me more responsibility,” Abdulhayoglu explained. When asked for advice, he said: “I think it is manageable to be in two clubs and a full-time student. The hard part is deciding, but once you do you get used to it actually. I would like to recommend to them that being a part of student clubs is a great opportunity for getting to know themselves and for socializing with the community. I know from myself we as international students are so introverted. Being part of the clubs is the key for becoming extroverted. Also, I would like to add one more piece of advice for the international students: be yourself and be proud of yourself; nobody is better than you. You can find yourself by talking to others. So if you want to break your chains, go for it.”

Here is what Desiree Rodriguez, an ISO Social Media officer and Communication Design major from the United States, describes her experience as well as her message to NCC students:

“It was an awesome experience because I still got to see attractions that I had never seen, such as The Capitol Building, Botanical Gardens, The National Museum of Natural History, The Smithsonian and the African Museum and The Martin Luther King exhibit. I enjoyed the gardens with the group, especially the butterfly exhibit. My advice to current members and also upcoming members is to sign up and explore each event! Not only will you make your own friends but will create your own memories of a lifetime. You will come to find this organization is a small family without judgement of your race or culture. Make it a special part of your life.”

Humbert Amiani, a Computer Science major, from Kenya, declared: “I found D.C. to be a lively place and the population is so diverse compared to other major metropolitan areas around. The only major concern would be traffic jams. I would definitely visit again and would like to encourage all ISO members to utilize such opportunities. Get out there and take the initiative of learning new aspects of the American culture by visiting different places of interest.”

Hyojin Kim, a Business Administration major from Korea, said, “I want to say International students who want to join in, don’t hesitate! Join us and enjoy it! It could be a wonderful memory in your life.”

Mark Orse, an Admissions Assistant and ISO Co-Advisor for about 7 years, says the total trips this semester include Ice Hocky Ring’s second game in Allentown, Washington, D.C. trip, Halloween Hotel of Horror in Saylorsburg, PA on Oct. 31 and Hershey Park on Nov. 9. There will also be Thanksgiving dinner welcomed for any members after the majority votes the specific location. Orse asserts that ISO is a student-run organization in which the majority vote rules after openly discussing various options and officer elections happen every semester.

In addition, he mentioned there will be International week right before Thanksgiving week in which international students will represent presentations, cultural music, dance performances, and food in Lipkin Theatre on Thursday, Nov. 20. Lastly, he expressed that he is available to guide what works for these international students by “just being there for that part, watch them grow, watch them take the lead, and build each trips for these activities.”

Those interested in being part of an international culture that includes educational trips with reasonable cost as well as fun learning experiences are welcome to join the ISO Club. For more information contact club advisors Mark Orse at morse@nullnorthampton.edu, Dr. Manuel Gonzalez at mgonzalez@nullnorthampton.edu, or Patty Boulous at pboulous@nullnorthampton.edu.