International Club celebrates twentieth anniversary

The International Club integrates international and domestic students within the campus community. The organization is a part of the Culture Identity and Leadership Coalition. The organization is advised by the Director of International Education Lucinda Morgan.

Meetings are biweekly on Tuesday from 8-9 p.m. via Zoom or Google Meet. Typically, the International Club uses this general body meeting to discuss events and internal affairs with its members. The organization is open to any student — international or domestic.

The organization has seen a decline in member participation in virtual meetings, but President Dakchyata Thapa, ’22, said that she understands the decline due to the fact that a lot of activities have become virtual activities and that these can be tiresome for students.

“We meet biweekly because we have a big reach on campus so meeting weekly does not really work so we try to space (our meetings) out,” Thapa said. “We want to take into consideration remote international students where time difference can be a very big factor. Even if they are remote, it may still be their first year or even if it is not their first year, we try to make them feel more a part of the campus. We want to make sure that their time difference works for (our meetings).”

Thapa has been affiliated with the International Club for the last three years. She has served in several positions on the board. Next semester, Thapa will not be on campus so Vice President Arigun Bayaraa, ’22, will succeed her presidency.

“(Bayaraa) and I have a mission for this semester,” Thapa said. “We wanted not only to just integrate the international students on campus but to be hands on in the admissions process for international students. This year, we want to focus on admissions and how to integrate it with the International Club to get more reach and build a more personal connection with our members.”

Thapa acknowledged that the size of the organization makes it difficult to establish a personal connection with COVID-19 in consideration, but it is a priority for the board.

“The International Club has felt like a home to me,” Thapa said. “I felt invited before I even made it to campus because everyone was so welcoming and were able to get into contact with me. I felt at home with the International Club because we all feel the same feeling of being away from home. As much as we try not to feel homesick, there is some stuff that just does not resonate well with us. For us, being able to feel the same discomfort, I think, made us feel more comfortable being a part of the club.”

Some members recalled the club being a way that they could connect with different students that could relate to how they were feeling.

“The board is a combination of both international and non-international students so it is nice to be connected with different students,” Secretary Tiaralei Cade, ’23, said. “Most of the people that I met in the club were international students so I could connect with them, and I was able to relate to a lot of the events that the club hosted.”

International Education Week is full of events sponsored by the International Education Office and the International Club. The week consisted of several events such as the International Fashion Show and the International Bazaar.

Due to COVID-19, International Education Week events must be altered to be either virtual or physically distanced therefore the International Bazaar will not occur. This week also coincides with the week of student move out for break so events will be smaller due to schedule changes.

“Due to (COVID-19) regulations, we are unable to host the (International) Bazaar this year,” Event Manager Hanna Nguyen, ’23, said. “My favorite events are the International Bazaar and the International Fashion Show. I understand why we had to cancel this year because with (COVID-19) we cannot get too close and have everyone gather in Shultz (Banquet Hall), but it is sad.”

Nguyen mentioned that if there is an opportunity to safely host the International Bazaar in the spring, that will be one of her priorities as event coordinator. She added that safety will be considered for any International Club event that may occur in the spring semester.

“If there is a vaccine and if the school allows me to host the (International) Bazaar then as event manager, I will plan to host it for the spring,” Nguyen said.

Despite challenges associated with COVID-19, the International Club has hosted a virtual talent show and T-shirt giveaway to celebrate their twentieth anniversary at the college. The organization is still giving away t-shirts. If anyone is interested, they can participate in the giveaway on Instagram.

“We had a good outcome, but it was not necessarily the same outcome that we would have received in person,” Thapa said. “As a board, we have decided to keep in mind what is going on in the world right now and we want our members to feel comfortable. If our members do not feel comfortable coming in person then we want to make sure that we keep that in mind. We also need to make sure that international students who are not on campus right now do not feel excluded — that is the biggest reason why we chose to have virtual meetings and events.”

This semester, the board has also focused on offering storage opportunities to their members who cannot afford the cost of storage.

“During winters in previous years, we were allowed to keep our stuff in our rooms, but this year we cannot,” Thapa said. “It will be harder for international students because we are expected to move out and take everything … We are trying to figure out a way where our club could facilitate storage or be able to organize a way where all international students could get together and rent a storage unit so that they have a space for their stuff. … We have been focusing on the logistics this semester and how to deal with the new situations.”

Moving forward, the International Club plans to hold discussions with prospective international students. Spring semester holds many potential opportunities to hold events outside, but that also depends on COVID-19, Thapa added.