International Student Organization to feature ‘Amazing Race’

Event to offer more interactive options to student this year

Want to try your hand at calligraphy? What’s your stance on Henna? Or maybe traditional African dances are more your speed.

On Feb. 15, performers, artists and the like will spread themselves throughout the Atrium and into the Centrum for the International Student Organization’s annual spring festival.

This year, the show has a bit of a twist.

Rather than a talent show, ISO thought to have an event that would resemble the television show, “The Amazing Race,” hoping to incorporate more audience interaction.

ISO President Pa Houa Thor said that the group has felt this aspect lacking in recent years.

“In the past, we’ve noticed that you get to see the song and dance,” she said, “but you don’t get to necessarily interact.”

Sonja Paulson, Assistant Director of Intercultural Affairs and ISO advisor, said that everyone who attends the event will be given a passport with different criteria for them to complete as they weave their way through the different booths, each of which will offer a different cultural experience.

On Saturday, starting at 8 p.m., students and members of the community will be welcomed into the Knutson Campus Center to find booths representing different countries strewn throughout the building.

Thor added that ISO will hold a dance in the Centrum at 10 p.m. where international music will blare over loudspeakers and those who took their dance lessons to heart will have the opportunity to show their stuff.

This year, ISO represents 32 countries around the world, according to Paulson. Although the organization is made up of both international and American students, there tends to be a rift between the two groups both at Concordia and in other arenas.

The phenomenon is called “siloing,” Paulson said. People tend to lump together (like a silo) with those they are similar to, and the end result is a lack of mixture among different groups.

ISO hopes to end this phenomen.

“You might have a different upbringing,” Paulson said, “but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from each other.”

Senior Alex Cyusa, who has served on ISO’s board for two years, notices this phenomenon happening on Concordia’s campus and, as an international student from Rwanda, understands the apprehension people have.

“No one is daring to step outside the box,” he said. “The way I overcame this (phenomenon) was by stepping outside the box.”

In addition to hosting the Amazing Race on Saturday, ISO recently started a new program that aims to connect American and international students.

Paulson said Culturally in Transit is a pilot program and an experiment. ISO hopes to foster cross-cultural relationships with the new program and by holding events like The Amazing Race.

Paulson sees siloing as a universal problem.

“I see it as a missed opportunity for students to learn from each other,” she said.

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