Diversity is important to the University of Miami, which boasts 1,500 international students who represent 115 different countries. The Council of International Students and Organizations (COISO) was a group created in 1967 to represent the interests of international students at the “U” and is open to everyone.
“COISO is the place on campus where minds from all over the globe can come together and understand that our differences can be appreciated and we are all actually more alike than most people realize,” President Pamela Jackson said.
An umbrella organization for the 18 international student organizations at the University of Miami, COISO organizations range from the Colombian Students Association (COLSA) to the Organization of Arab Students Instituting Solidarity (OASIS) to the Filipino Students Association (FSA). The presidents of all the international organizations meet once a week with the executive board of COISO in the Council of Presidents Meeting.
“It’s a time where the organization leaders can come together and collaborate on ideas and events,” Jackson said. “These meetings also include culture breaks where organizations get to share a piece of their own culture with everyone, whether it be a song, a dance or a story.”
COISO organizes a range of events including International Week, which is a week-long celebration of cultural diversity with entertainment, food and shows. It also hosts an event called United Nations Day that informs the campus about political and social issues affecting the world. The International Dance Competition, International Student Olympics and Mr. & Mrs. International are other events.
“We try to put on events that bring culture to campus and integrate the international and domestic communities,” Jackson said.
Nicole Ralph-Forton, the current president of the Asian-American Student Organization, has been named the president of COISO for the 2009-2010 year since Jackson graduated.
“I believe that my family here at the University of Miami is COISO, so my goal as president is to expand the family because I feel it’s a great organization,” Ralph-Forton said
International students automatically become members of COISO, but cannot be contacted by it through e-mail and telephone. Students must voluntarily get involved themselves.
“We really want to provide more events to the international students,” Ralph-Forton said. “One of the programs that we would like to have is to go drive to the airport and pick up some of the international students when they first arrive.”
- Asian-American Students Association (AASA)
- Alliance of Latin American Students (ALAS)
- African Students Union (ASU)
- Brazilian Students Association (BRASA)
- Bahamian Students Association (BSA)
- Colombian Students Association (COLSA)
- Caribbean Students Association (CSA)
- Filipino Students Association (FSA)
- Hui Aloha-Pacific Islander Students Association
- Organization for Jamaican Unity (OJU)
- UM Model United Nations (MUN)
- Organization of Arab Students Instituting Solidarity (OASIS)
- Central American Students Organization (ODECA)
- Planet Kreyol – Haitian Student Organization
- SABOR – Puerto Rican Students Association
- Trinidad & Tobago Cultural Association (TTCA)
- United Dominican Association (UDA)
- Virgin Islands Students Association (VISA)