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ISSUE 116 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/21/2003

Embracing other nations

By Megan Sutherland
Staff Writer

Friday, February 21, 2003

With many colleges emphasizing the important role a diverse student population plays in education, St. Olaf is also trying to celebrate the diversity here on the Hill. On Saturday, Mar. 1, the annual International Night will be held in Urness Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m.

International Night is a forum in which international students at St. Olaf get the opportunity to share their talents with each other and those in attendance. Countries such as Norway, Thailand, Rwanda, Japan, and Germany will be represented, among others. Traditional dancing and singing will be performed as well as poetry reading and story telling. International Counselor Angela Goehring encourages all students and faculty to come observe and participate if they are so inclined. Skits will be performed as well as a fashion show showcasing traditional clothing of each respective country.

Junior Shraddha Mehta, a student from India who is helping to coordinate the event, says they are "hoping to get as many people from different countries as possible" to participate, and hopes to find "more American students participating" this year than in years past. Following the conclusion of these events there will be various traditional foods prepared by international students in the King's Room.

There will be a charge of $4, but in years past everyone has enjoyed the opportunity to try unique dishes they would not have exposure to otherwise.

It can be hard to travel so far away for school, and when international students first arrive on campus they attend various activities such as the Minnesota State Fair and participate in programs like Explore Minnesota. They arrive on campus before first-years and upperclassmen move in.

According to first-year Jeremy Hoover, who spent most of his life in Congo, they "have time to bond with one another and fill out the enormous amount of paper work, including visa issues and financial forms, that accompanies going abroad for college." In addition, each international student is paired with an American roommate so they can more easily learn more about American culture and have someone to help them adjust to the change. They are also given a host family with whom they can stay over breaks and an American buddy for the first year to help with any concerns or questions they may have.

Throughout the year the ISO (International Students' Organization) holds cultural activities, which all students are encouraged to attend. While there are only 45 students who are technically considered international on campus, there are, however, others who have grown up abroad yet have American citizenship, are recent immigrants, or duel citizens who are not counted as technically being international. One of the main problems is that St. Olaf does not actively recruit students overseas. The only recruitment is done voluntarily by professors teaching abroad or through exchange programs with which the college is affiliated. While most schools' international population has been on the rise, unfortunately this has not been the case at St. Olaf.

Over the last few years the number of students who attend from overseas has been decreasing. The largest problem preventing an increase of international students at St. Olaf is lack of money. Because the college's general policy is not to award more than a half-tuition scholarship to international students, it is often difficult for them to come up with enough resources to come here.

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