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.”