The Hillsdale College Inter­na­tional Club plans to host a variety of events to introduce campus to worldwide cul­tures and tra­di­tions.
Nour Ben Hmieida | Courtesy

After some years of staying in the shadows, the Inter­na­tional Club is becoming more active on campus by increasing their events this year.

The Inter­na­tional Club is planning on hosting monthly movie nights as well as putting on a fes­tival in the spring semester to educate campus on other cul­tures and get more stu­dents involved. According to senior Lydia Reyes, vice pres­ident of the club, the number of inter­na­tional stu­dents has increased, and they are eager to share their culture with other stu­dents.

“They have a lot of great sug­ges­tions,” Reyes said. “It’s a way to make the foreign stu­dents feel more involved and have more of a com­munity.”

Senior Nour Ben Hmieida, the club pres­ident, said they plan to have hot cocoa and dif­ferent snack foods at the movie nights – similar to their showing of an Iranian movie and serving of Middle Eastern coffee and baklava last semester. Since there are more Spanish-speaking stu­dents in the club this year, Ben Hmieida said they plan to show a Spanish movie at the end of the month.

“I think that will be really fun,” Ben Hmieida said. “Those are usually the more low-key events that we’ll have.”

In addition to monthly Spanish fea­tures, the club plans to choose dif­ferent themes for each movie.

Reyes said movies are a good event because they are easy to both host and attend, and give stu­dents a taste of a dif­ferent culture.

“We’re trying to keep it mixed up,” Reyes said. “Not keep it too focused on one lan­guage or one culture.”

Ben Hmieida said when the weather gets warmer in the spring semester, the club will set up a fes­tival in which each student of the club heads a booth with cul­tural food, music, and art.

“We’ll see how that one goes,” Ben Hmieida said. “You can just walk around, just chill.”

The Inter­na­tional Club was started after World War II with the intention of under­standing dif­ferent cul­tures amidst post-war sen­ti­ments. The events are espe­cially per­sonal to the inter­na­tional stu­dents, said Ben Hmieida, and they are excited to educate other stu­dents and share with them global dif­fer­ences that they have right here.

“Last year, we struggled with par­tic­i­pation,” Ben Hmieida said. “But I think what really excited people was having big ideas and big projects. They wanted to help and see this thing that they’d never seen on campus come to life.”

The club also wants to have a Mediter­ranean-themed feast sometime in November, according to Reyes. Ben Hmieida hopes to col­lab­orate with the SHALOM club to bring in Middle Eastern dancers to the Grewcock Student Union. She also wants to hold talks given by the inter­na­tional stu­dents.

“Another part of the club is to get inter­na­tional stu­dents to share their per­spec­tives on their coun­tries or if they lived through political crisis,” Ben Hmieida added. “They can share their expe­rience there.”

Reyes agreed, saying that she wants to bring more cul­tural awareness to campus.

“There’s def­i­nitely the saying of the ‘Hillsdale bubble,’” Reyes said. “It’s very easy to get involved with what’s on campus and only on campus, and so you close yourself off to the com­munity and to the rest of the world. You have to make the effort to burst through that bubble, and that’s one of the biggest things we’re trying to do.”

Reyes added that she hopes increased par­tic­i­pation in the club will let stu­dents know that anyone can be involved in cel­e­brating culture.

“People tend to think that it’s just for the foreign stu­dents, it’s just kind of a closed club, but no, it’s for everybody,” Reyes said. “It’s for open dia­logue. I think that’s probably the biggest thing.”

For Kenyan student Ritah Ogayo, a junior, her favorite thing about the club is getting to know both inter­na­tional and American stu­dents and sharing their excitement for learning about other cul­tures.

“I get a sense of belonging,” Ogayo said in an email. “And some of the events like the Kenyan dinner make me feel closer to home.”