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International Night highlights strength in difference

International Night 2019

Members of the St. Olaf and Northfield community celebrated the 53rd International Night in the Pause on Saturday, March 16. To get the best seating for the 7 p.m. show, people began to arrive as soon as the doors opened at 6:30.

The event was hosted by the International Students Organization (ISO) with special support from the Taylor Center for Equity & Inclusion, Diversity Initiatives Support Committee (DISC), Megan Carmes, the Assistant Director for International Student Engagement and Jenny Howenstine, the Associate Dean of Admission.

This year’s theme, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall,” focused on celebrating strengths in difference. The flag ceremony at the beginning of the show captured the theme well with community members presenting their countries’ flags and saying several words in their native language.

“When you talk about international students on campus, you talk about them as one cluster,” Khatidja Jiwani ’21, secretary of ISO, said. “In reality, yes we are united, we are one, but I think we’re strong because we’re also different.”

Co-chair of ISO, Marie Kadurira ’20, agreed with Jiwani.

“I would really hope that people would take the time to get to know the different pieces of this international student body that we have at St. Olaf,” Kadurini said.

The 17 performances, divided by a short intermission during which the audience and performers took pictures and interacted over orange juice, emphasized the theme of difference and unity by way of their unique styles.

“We think it’s important that everyone was able to celebrate the uniqueness and be supportive in the uniqueness,” Kadurira said. “That’s one thing for tonight we really wanted to push through and that’s what makes this [year] kind of different.”

Highlights included the audience clapping along to a sentimental cover of  “Ya Watani,” a Sudanese songe, and an emotional cover of an Arabic love song called “Ent Eih.” More upbeat performances included “ECCA,” a dance piece showcasing the Flamenco, Ukranian and Georgian cultures, “Hmong Couple Dance,” an innocent courting dance, and “Mambokadzi,” which showed three traditional dances of the Nuer, Zim and Soca.

For the first time in International Night history, the diversity of the Filipino culture was celebrated in the performance of “Pamilya Pinoy.” The performance included a mixture of traditional and modern dance that involved dancing between two bamboo sticks.

The last performance was “Afro Bollywood,” a fusion between modern African dance and Bollywood.

“I’ve been doing [International Night] since my freshman year, and I think the reason why I keep coming back is because there’s just so many different types of people,” Kadurira said. “It’s really cool that we can come together and put on a show together.”

“We have been getting ticket requests till the end moment and it is super overwhelming, but I’m glad that so many people wanted to come and see it and support us,” Jiwani said. “I think this show was successful and it makes us feel like our work was worth it.”

For those unable to attend and requested tickets, be sure to check out the live stream of the event online.

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