International students take March to celebrate

In its second International Student Month, MISA hopes to make a big splash.

Vanessa Nyarko

The Minnesota International Student Association’s office has been a scene of organized chaos this month as members busy themselves preparing for International Student Month.

This year, the group is expanding the celebrations with events aimed at boosting knowledge of international student issues.

“The purpose of [International Student Month] is to uphold our mission of having international students on campus as well as domestic students feel more at home,” said MISA Vice President Mehek Masood.

On Wednesday, MISA is hosting a panel where students will able to speak with University of Minnesota administrators on cultural barriers between domestic and international students and other issues.

The group also has a trivia night called “America vs. The World” planned for Thursday. Masood said the event’s moderators will ask questions about U.S. culture and pastimes to improve international students’ knowledge of America.

“International Student Month is just a way to try to reach out to them more,” said Suji Jin, the group’s programming secretary. “We’d like to see them in the room more often.”

MISA’s recognition of international students used to be just a weeklong celebration. It expanded to a month after some group members noticed a racist joke targeting international students on the University of Minnesota Confessions Facebook page, MISA adviser Khoa Vu said.

Vu said MISA wanted to take some action when the student wasn’t punished for making the joke.

“If the University would not do anything, then MISA, as an organization that stands for international students, had to do something,” Vu said.

MISA launched a campaign aimed at helping people understand why international students come to the University, including panel discussions where the faculty members and domestic and international students could talk about issues that weren’t often discussed.

Vu said this made such an impact that the week expanded to a monthlong event.

Throughout March, the group is holding an event called the Legacy of MISA, which showcases the group’s history. MISA’s board members found past flyers and news articles about the group and have invited other students to their office on of Coffman Union’s second floor to see the display and learn about the group.

MISA has also organized a flash mob on the first floor of Coffman with Indian, Chinese and hip-hop dancing during the first week of March.