The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

International Student Organization connects students through new and old traditions

(from top to bottom, left to right) ISO Cabinet Kripa Bansal `24, Ghana Singh `23, Kevin (Sherry) Huang `22, Momi Fukushima `22, Shrey Agrawal `24, Evaan Ahmed `23, Jivya Vaidya `23, and Nick El Hajj `24 are excited to welcome students to ISO. Photo by Ariel Richards.

The International Student Organization (ISO) is wasting no time to host events to connect with new students and welcome back returning ones now that the entire student body is back on campus.

“It was just hard to … start a community again, you know, because you have a lot of people who haven’t been on campus too and you got to welcome them back and also the first years [and] second years,” said ISO President Momi Fukushima `22.

The International Pre-Orientation Program (IPOP), which occurs in the week prior to NSO, allowed many international students to have the opportunity to connect with one another and be introduced to ISO.

ISO Vice President Kexin (Sherry) Huang `22 said many second-year international students managed to make strong connections in spite of the separation of different class years induced by the pandemic.

“The second years, amazingly, they did a good job connecting among themselves because I guess they have similar experiences and they went through the same thing,” said Huang.

When ISO held a special election to determine who would be treasurer for the spring semester after the current treasurer decided they would be studying abroad in the spring, board members were surprised at the number of people who applied for the position. ISO Secretary Gyana Singh `23 says ISO received nine applicants in the first round.

“It felt kind of nice that people want to do this,” said Singh. “If so, many people want to be a part of it, they saw something they like.”

To connect with students, ISO reached out to international students in a number of ways.

ISO’s first event of the year was an outdoor “welcome event” hosted on Aug. 28 outside the JRC to allow unvaccinated students to develop a sense of community.

“So many of the international students weren’t vaccinated when they came here. And they weren’t allowed to get in the D-Hall and form a community,” said Singh.

At the event, ISO served tea and encouraged students to safely socialize and get to know one another.

In September, ISO collaborated with the Chinese Student Association (CSA) to plan CSA’s Mid-Autumn Festival, but due to funding issues, the event had to be postponed to Oct. 29.

“We’re trying to provide support not only for the students in our org, but also international student orgs,” said Huang.

ISO’s second event of the year was a “study break” boba tea event held on Oct. 6 in which they provided free bubble tea drinks to students in the midst of preparing for midterms. Similar funding concerns emerged over whether the organization’s budget would be approved before the event was planned to occur, but luckily ISO managed to secure funds the day prior.

Once their budget was approved by SGA, ISO ordered and retrieved the bubble tea drinks from Iowa City and brought them back to Grinnell for students to pick up from the ISO suite in the JRC.

“We got, I think, 200 odd pieces and they were all gone in 30 minutes,” said Singh.

Fukushima says having the boba study break on the second floor also helped introduce students to the many multicultural student spaces there.

ISO plans to host further study break events for students in the coming months, each with a different theme.

Food Bazaar, one of ISO’s most popular and beloved annual events, will be making its grand return this year.

For Food Bazaar, students from across the globe prepare different dishes from their own cultures to be shared with and enjoyed by students. Student chefs typically work in pairs to prepare meals and each pair is responsible for making roughly 40-50 servings. Domestic students can also be involved in the event by helping students cook, or preparing meals from their own unique culture. ISO supplies students with all of the ingredients and supplies necessary for cooking.

“It’s a way of bringing their own home culture to all of us,” said Singh. “I feel like that just gives us both a connection to our roots in some way while also meeting new people through it.”

So far, ISO has received 43 unique recipes that will be available for students to taste once the event is hosted.

“It’s one of the biggest events in Grinnell, and it’s a place where we can really celebrate our diversity that we have in food,” said Fukushima.

“I feel it’s just something we need here, to be reminded that, you know, we can have a sense of homeliness and these new experiences together,” said Singh.

ISO also hopes that Food Bazaar will allow international and domestic students to connect with one another more.

“There shouldn’t be a divide in a bad way, right? Yes, we are all different but we should celebrate that,” said Fukushima. “We want to use Food Bazaar as an event that bridges that gap.”

Though Fukushima says ISO is still planning the specific details of the event, she says the organization might have some students give a presentation or speech that tries to bring international and domestic students together.

“Food is a really good way to connect people,” said Huang. “You will be able to connect on a cultural level … while you’re tasting, trying the food, thinking about the culture behind it. I think that’s a really good way to connect people among the two groups.”

Students need tickets to participate in Food Bazaar. Food Bazaar itself will take place on Sunday, Nov. 14 in the Harris Center from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *