OU’s International Student Union (ISU) will host International Week (I-Week) the second week of April. ISU aims to hold a plethora of festivities to connect the people of Athens and make sure the events are inclusive and accessible to all.
The week holds value in finding a belonging in Athens for international students – not only finding a belonging in Athens, but the surrounding area and beyond. The theme of the week is about striving towards global togetherness on campus and in the greater Athens area.
“With all the things that we have planned, it is fulfilling and very satisfying, and nobody will regret volunteering or being part of I-Week,” Mary-Magdalene N. Chumbow, ISU marketing and public relations director, said. “So please, we want to hear your stories, we want to hear you speak, we want to hear you share your ideas and talk about your culture. We are welcoming, any type of culture whatever you identify with would like to know would like to hear your voice, and all that. We are many nations, one family.”
Being a chance for students to represent themselves and where they are from, the week is full of events that allow them to do exactly that. The students will be able to celebrate the global body on campus while giving support to other students and experiencing the same support in return.
Although planning was a challenge this year due to health guidelines, ISU made sure to adjust their platforms and create a memorable week.
“I feel like with everything that's going on, going out with COVID and the idea with I-Week, we haven't had most of our major events…” Temiloluwa Olubakinde, ISU’s vice president, said. “We felt that this was an important part of the Ohio University calendars and events, and it's something that students look forward to every year. The first years of people who are joining the Ohio community may not know this but every year this event is something that everyone's supporting, something that everyone enjoys from other international domestic communities, regardless of where they're coming from, like their background –– they've always enjoyed the week.”
To start the week, Monday, April 5 at 7:30 a.m. there will be a flag raising of all the international flags on College Green. The flags will represent all the countries and cultures at OU. The flags will be taken down at 3:30 p.m. the same day so ISU encourages students to look at them while they can. People can sign-up to help with the flag raising and take down on ISU’s website.
Following the flag rising on Monday, there will be a virtual cooking show that will showcase foods from all different continents. It will be hosted by an OU culinary chef, Chef Tim, and an international student from Ghana.
On Tuesday, April 6, a TED Talk style event is taking place. The event will host an OU faculty member, an international student and an Athens local, to speak about their individual perspective on I-Week’s theme.
ISU needs Athens help with the speaking engagement. They are still in search of a member of the Athens area to speak during the event. Being on a virtual platform, the outreach has been difficult. Anyone who is an Athens local and is interested in speaking can sign-up if they would like to be a part of I-Week and this event.
Directly following the speech, a dance party will take place at 6 p.m. The dance party will highlight cultural music from around the world. ISU encourages students to participate and submit songs that they’ll want to dance to.
“We play music from Africa, from different parts of Africa, from Europe, from Asia, so that’s the different kinds of songs that we have,” Ama Boatemaa Appiah-Kubi, ISU executive board member and coordinator of the virtual dance party, said. “We are also going to have some kind of performances from students who have some kind of talent. Some people are going to sing, some people are going to play instruments. It's all towards our theme which is global community beyond diversity and unification, It’s bringing together our music, our dance –– showcasing our culture in a way that brings all of us together.”
On Wednesday, April 7, Chumbow and ISU marketing will be hosting a radio show for people to listen in on.
Thursday, April 8, there will be a Trivia Night. ISU is partnering with International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS) to have a fun-filled trivia night where everyone can learn more about different cultures and have an enjoyable time together via Zoom.
Culture Day is Friday, April 9. On this day, students are able to submit videos of themselves sharing their stories, a day in the life, something fun to showcase their culture or a video showing how international students are living on campus during COVID and thriving. Students can submit their video on ISU’s website.
Through Bobcat Chat, there will be a panel with four international students. The panel will be having a public conversation about what they have achieved so far in the local area. The purpose of this event is to bring forward international student’s voices and talk about their experiences at OU.
More event details, like all events’ Zoom codes, can be found on OU’s I-Week website. ISU encourages anyone and everyone who would like to participate to take the leap and try it out.
“In these virtual, like let's put it our reality but it's virtual, we are somehow pushed farther back into our social inclusion, and we didn't have a chance to speak up, and to share our experiences, it can be like having cultural background or like experiencing Ohio University,” Hayasa Tahmazyan, ISU’s president, said. “The encouraging thing that I'm always like telling international students and anyone who I’m thinking of is going to study abroad in my country, I'm saying just believe in yourself. And besides, believing in yourself, believing that someone is also believing in yourself. Someone is trusting you.”
This week will be an exciting show of diversity. Unification can start locally, but this week is a step to make a globally connected society not only within OU but everywhere beyond.