International Cultural Exhibit and Henna Night

Eleni Birhane – Intern, Office of International Programs
ebirhane@css.edu

Culture, identity, art, beauty, and community. These were the themes of the event held on Friday in the student union here at The College of St. Scholastica. The Office of International Programs (OIP) and the Muslim Student Association of St. Scholastica came together to organize the International Cultural Exhibit and Henna Night. The event consisted of students from different backgrounds showcasing aspects of their culture; while at the time there was a henna artist present who created new designs, and brought student designs to life in henna.

It was quite the sight. There were five countries represented by students: namely Mexico (Monserrat Loeza-Rodriguez and Josue Chino-Cruz), Germany (Maria Ropers), India (Shivani Singh), Cambodia (Phillisha Cham) and Zimbabwe (Yevedzo Chipangura and Angel Sibanda). Most of the students either wore or displayed a piece of cultural clothing. That, coupled with the flags of most of the countries and the different items that were displayed, made the exhibit a real treat for the eyes. Most of the exhibits (representing each country) also had traditional foods to share with the attendees. Each stand displayed its own unique set of artifacts and traditions ranging from traditional musical instruments to common Jewish practices/artifacts and their meanings.

When planning this event the OIP outlined the exhibit’s relevance to the community here on campus by the following points:
To raise cultural awareness among all of us (not necessarily just U.S. students, we are all different too).
To introduce ourselves to new ways of thinking and be aware of different perspectives.
To learn – we can always learn more about each others countries and cultures.
With the current social and political climate we want to make sure the voices of our international student community are still being heard and recognized in a positive way.

The OIP serves as a major resource for international students here at CSS. The OIP, through the International Student Services, supports students in their adjustment to St. Scholastica and life in the U.S. We are committed to assisting students with immigration issues and referring students to other resources on and off campus. International Student Services is dedicated to supporting, advocating for and promoting the success of international students while at St. Scholastica and beyond. We offer social and informational programming to serve international students, the campus and the local community. When the political and immigration climate changed because of the overall stand of the current administration towards people from different origins, the OIP did not hesitate to offer its full services to the international students to make sure they are feeling safe and to let them know they do not stand on their own. The OIP is planning events and workshops throughout the semester that aid both international and domestic students through these uncertain times as a community.