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International Student Union members Akhil Mesa (left) from Hyderabad, India, Ami Scherson (center) from Cleveland, Ohio, and ISU programming director Safiya Ahmed (right) from Iraq, march during the ISU's Unity Walk on Monday, March 26, 2018.

ISU will welcome new leaders, see returning staff

International Student Union President Carla Triana will be returning to work as president for the 2018-19 school year. But there are some new hirings for the staff. 

ISU has been functioning as an umbrella organization for more than 20 different student cultural organizations on campus for years. In the upcoming school year, ISU will welcome a new vice president and a new programming director. 

Triana, a senior studying international business, is looking forward to working with the new executive board, many of whom have experience working in ISU.

“I’m really excited about it,” she said. “They’re all a group of motivated individuals with bright ideas ... who are ready to start working already. It’s good to have a team that is energetic.”

Ami Scherson, the current secretary of ISU, will take on the role of vice president. Scherson, a junior studying music, first became involved with the organization when she joined the Japanese Language and Culture Association.

While serving as secretary for ISU, she focused on the “nitty-gritty details” of the organization and did not have as many opportunities to communicate face-to-face. She wanted to apply a more big picture and think about different programs to create. 

As vice president, her role will be to create the committee for International Week and make more decisions about events. For example, this year, she helped bring in the band Red Baraat for International Week, and she hopes to find more ways to connect ISU with music and art. 

“I definitely think that through music, dance and art you’re able to connect with people in a way that doesn’t require language,” Scherson said. “Because sometimes I think language can become a barrier, and music and art really creates conversation.”

Scherson has helped create spaces for international students to share their music and art. In the Front Room Coffeehouse, different framed photos line the walls depicting scenes from this year’s International Week. She also helped plan the musical guests and performances for different international events on campus.

“For me, I really love ISU because you’re able to take in so many different cultures at once while representing your own,” Scherson said. “It was a space for me to really be myself.”

As a domestic student from Cleveland, she wants to make international students feel comfortable to express themselves while studying at Ohio University. When her father from Chile was an international student studying at the University of California, Davis, he had always wished there were more opportunities for international students when he was in college. 

“Learning about the experiences of the students here makes you not only appreciate what you have but also understand what it took for those students to come here,” Scherson said. “And how happy they are even though they might have overcome some struggles and things. Learning about all that, that is such a humbling experience for me.”

Viktoria Marinova, a graduate student studying communication and development studies and public administration, has an extensive background planning events, which will make her new role as a programming director an easy transition. 

“Project management and event coordinating — it’s something that I really really enjoy, and now that I’m here ... I think it’s really important to not lose those kinds of skills that you have,” Marinova said.

Born in Varna, Bulgaria, and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, Marinova has worked previously for a media company in project management and event coordinating. She is also working as a graduate assistant for the International Student and Faculty Services, where she has had many opportunities to learn about other cultures as well as expose others to hers. 

Every International Week, she helps decorate College Green with flags, placing the Bulgarian and South African flags together, creating the perfect photo op. As programming director, she helps to continue putting on events such as International Dinner, where she had the opportunity to try dozens of dishes from different countries. 

“It’s a great opportunity because you get to work with a huge team of international students and get to learn so much, and get to be a part of creating some fantastic events,” Marinova said. 

Many of the events held by ISU during the past years has helped spread cultural diversity to OU and the Athens area, and Triana is looking forward to continuing that mission for the upcoming school year.

“I’m very, very excited,” she said.

Mae Yen Yap contributed to this report.


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