I-Week seeks to educate students

‘United We Stand’ is the theme for this year’s International Week (I-Week), which kicked off on Friday with Asia Day.

The event is annually sponsored by the Council of International Students and Organizations [COISO] in conjunction with other multi-cultural organizations on campus such as the Indian Students Association [ISA], Filipino Students Association [FSA] United Black Students [UBS], Caribbean Students Association [CSA] and many more.

“It’s an absolutely amazing event and everyone has put a lot of work into this,” said Nikki Chun, President of COISO.

One Night of Asia was organized by the ISA, FSA and the Asian American Students Association [AASA] and took place on Friday at 7:30 p.m. on the UC Patio.

“Five percent of UM students are Asians, so we want to let the other 95 percent know about us,” said Samantha Xavier, President of AASA.

The performances ran from traditional to modern day dances and many showcased how the western ideas and movements had been incorporated into the traditional styles.

“Most of us are first and second generation Americans and this helps us keep Asian culture alive,” Xavier said.

Performances included a Lion Dance, and forms by the Wah Lum Kung Fu, which consisted of complex martial arts movements.

ISA put on Nach Mundeya and Oru Murai Vanthu, traditional Indian dances while their Dekho Abhay and Antakshri dances had more modern styles to them.

“The efforts are so amazing. I’m so impressed and it teaches me that if students at UM want to do something really well, they can!” said Christina Florez, an advisor at International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).

FSA performed N.A.N.A.Y, and Pandago Sa Ilaw – traditional Filipino dances – and Doesn’t Really Matter, United Tinkling and Rhythm Nation, which were fusions of traditional and modern dances.

They also put on a fashion show – East meets West, featuring designs from Mimi Lee, a UM graduate.

“Designing has always been my hobby so I think of whatever’s funky and in season and specialize it to my signature style,” Lee said.

Her designs are presently sold online at www.mimilee.com. The event drew an audience of about 150 participants from various ethnic backgrounds.

“It can be a nerve-wrecking, but it’s a great experience being on stage and sharing your culture with others,” said Sherill Chua, a choreographer and dancer.

The audience cheered and whistled throughout the event.

“This is my first I-Week and I have never seen students come together and show such cultural spirit of cooperation,” said Florez.

Asia Day was the first of a weeklong series of events mapped out to celebrate I-Week. Each day of the week has been dedicated to represent the culture of a different part of the world. There will be Africa Day, European Day, Hometown USA, Latin Day and Caribbean Day. I-Week runs till April 13th and closes with a banquet – A Feast of Nations.

“People have different ideas and its important that we have a chance to learn about everyone’s culture. It’s great to give the UM community a chance to experience this diversity of culture,” Xavier said.

For more information on I-Week contact COISO at 305-284-3548.