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ISSUE 121 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/14/2008

ISO embraces global cultures: International Night celebrates 42 years

By Margaret Wade
Arts Editor

Friday, March 14, 2008

The International Students Organization (ISO) celebrated cultures from around the world with music and dance Saturday at International Night.

The 42nd annual event of global awareness centered around the theme: "Global Market: Unity Through Diversity." Inspired by the Virginia Satir quote, "In our differences we grow, in our sameness we connect," Co-chairs Ladeisha Bhide '09 and Cheryl Philip '10 selected this underlying message to tie into the academic year theme of Global Citizenship.

"International Night is truly my favorite night of the entire year, and I have been involved in it since my first year at Olaf," Bhide said. "I'm amazed as cultures I didn't know were represented on campus suddenly blossom before my eyes in song and dance on the stage. I meet phenomenal people and make friends for life."

The program began with a flag procession, where 21 international students each welcomed the audience in their native language and placed a flag from their country on stage.

Hosts Nicole Jin '09 and Brandon Button '08 engaged the audience with skits between each performance, playing students on a study abroad trip with very different attitudes.

"We felt really honored that we got to be MC's, Button and Jin said. "Although neither of us are international students, we think that it was really important to show that everyone should be interested in International night, not just international students." Button also performed with the Indian Pop group. "It was great to both dance and MC international night," Button said. "And it wasn't just me either, there were a few people who were in like 5 dances! That is a lot of choreography to learn! Luckily, my dance partners were all really helpful and supportive of each other. But, after I danced, I was so winded that I could barely announce the next act."

The performances ranged from traditional to pop to funky, exploring a variety of rhthymns and techniques from all over the world. Each piece exuded energy and the performers beamed to show they were having a fantastic time on stage.

The evening began with "Baisri Sukwon," a graceful Thai dance performed by seven thai women in Sao Thai Jai Dee, accompanied by a folk song sung by Gik Sangwansiri. Next, string quartet Lars Skjerrheim Sellemannsla donned Norwegian sweaters to play "Valley Vals" and "Amy's Reinlendar."

When Sole Steppers energetically stomped and slapped across the stage to "Lip Gloss" by Lil Mama, audience members cheered: "Yeah girl" and "That's my roommate!" Vajyaum danced with a different sound, jingling belts and vests, to a traditional Hmong "New Year" song.

Two dances included water imagery. The Chinese Culture Club performed "Boatman's Love Song" that illusrtated men pulling loved ones with a red ribbon. The Japanese Fishermen presented "Soran Bushi," that included large movement's from a fisherman's routine.

India Pop brought Bollywood to the Pause with "Shabe Firaq," and made me want to get up and dance. Act II featured Ceilidh Band, Team Tibet, Bailar, Ntxhais Laim Txias (Daughters of Fallen Leaves), Bollywood Dancers, a song in Cantonese and Mandarin and Karibu.

Team Tibet performed "Bhoeshay,"a tradition-infused dance that included Tibetan students from St. Olaf and Carleton. "We all grew up attending Tibetan Dance classes since we were in middle school at the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota in St. Paul, so it brought back great memories,Tsetan Lobsang '10 said.

Bollywood Dancers energetically engaged the audience with rhythms from classc Indian musicals. "I'm not really a dancer by nature, but I caught on to 'Kajra Re' pretty quickly," Jeff Teoh '09 said, who enjoyed getting to be in a "flirtatious sort of dance with [his] girlfriend."

The final performance, "Ma Folie," closed the night with an epic dance including 19 energetic dancers. "The experience of dancing with Karibu was not only fun but culturally-enriching as well," Adam Dodge '08 said.

Mara Calvert '09, also a member of Karibu, shared her enthousiasm for the event: "I forgot about remembering all the counts and not being able to shake my hips like Beyonce, and just had fun. When it was all over, I wished we could hold International Night again so I could dance one more time, hip shaking and all!"

Luyen Phan, ISO and international student advisor, commends his students for their dedication. "As much as I provide some guidance and thoughts to the students, they also demonstrate their respect for each other -- even when they may disagree -- and how they want a community and world that embraces a global perspective," Phan said.

"I'm truly in awe and amazed by the dedication of all students, not just the members of ISO, that come together to organize, perform, cook and put together such a fantastic night."

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