Once again, International Club brought together talented students of all nationalities for the Truman International Idol competition. A fierce contest between seven teams with members from 10 different countries ensued as they sang, danced and acted for the honor of being Truman’s 2013 International Idol.
This year, a Bollywood dancing performance by Sobira Kholboeva and her teammates won the first place trophy. Kholboeva said it was special because her mother traveled nearly 15 hours from Uzbekistan to be in the audience. Kholboeva’s mother had even brought authentic Indian costumes to the U.S. for the team.
“I was extremely surprised when the MCs announced that we were the winners,” Kholboeva said. “I felt really excited because I have shown to my mom and my friends my dancing skills.”
Kholboeva said she never regretted joining the International Idol competition. She let us know that it was hard work, but it was a great chance to present different cultures, and, while preparation for the show, to make more friends among the international students on campus.
International Idol is not only a musical playground for international students, but also seems to be well received by American students. Elizabeth Williams went to the show for the second year in a row and said she loved watching different cultural dancing and singing. Williams supports international events like International Idol on campus because she thinks it would help American students learn more and appreciate different cultures worldwide.
Williams said, “A lot of people at Truman come from St. Louis or Kansas City. They often don’t have chances to approach international cultures as much as those living in the coasts do, so I think it’s important to have different cultures recognized at Truman through events like International Idol.”
When International Students first arrive at Truman, they are greeted by their Cultural Integration Leader (CIL), one of a team of American students who live in the residence halls with new International Students and help them adjust to university and life in the States. CILs not only help with the New Student Orientation, they are a source of information and support throughout the first year. CILs do things like have lunch with students, attend campus events or go shopping. Sometimes they just hang out and spend time as college students will, studying or watching TV or just talking.
Samantha Collins, a junior American CIL, says that her time at Truman would not be the same if she was not a CIL. “I like being able to share what I love about Truman with new students and see them come to love Truman as much as I do. A cool thing about being a CIL is that, by the end of the semester, you get really close to your students and are able to call them a friend. I am glad that I have had this experience, and I think it is good to know that when you are at a new place, you have someone to look out for you and to help you, someone who really enjoys doing it.”
Olivier Samo, who was born in Cameroon and is studying abroad at Truman from Germany, attended the annual CIL Thanksgiving Dinner. “It was an opportunity for students to celebrate together all the things they are thankful for and to eat traditional American Thanksgiving foods,” Samo said. He went on, “The dinner was a great chance for me to see how a typical Thanksgiving dinner looks like. The food was great. It was my first time to taste a traditional Thanksgiving Meal and I am very thankful to the ISAO who organized it.”
“Since I came to Truman, the Cultural Integration leaders have helped me a lot. I remember my first day arriving from Germany, some of them were there waiting for me and they were really friendly. They helped me get in touch with my new environment and were always ready to help me when I needed help. It’s a great program!”
On November 10th, the African Students’ Association (ASA) presented delicacies from more than 10 different African countries at “Food Fest”. This event kicked-off International Education Week 2013, with more than 200 people in attendance.
ASA president, Babanifemi Adio, a senior from Nigeria, spoke fondly of his time at Truman, “All these ASA events are ways in which I can feel close to home throughout my stay at Truman. I love Truman State University, because of the diversity and cultural embrace by the community.”
The African Students’ Association was founded in 2000 for the purpose of educating others about Africa and sharing African culture. According to Melanee Crist, Assistant Director of International Education at Truman, “The members wanted to dispel stereotypes about Africa and open eyes to the many significant contributions that Africans have made to the world. I am always moved by their talent and their cultural pride and the various ways they create to both entertain and educate. They never fail to teach me something new.”
The group is also a source of current information to its members and others on campus, discussing on a multitude of current events and topics concerning Africa. ASA works to support members within the organization, collaborate with other campus organizations and increase the variety of events offered on campus.
Next semester, the ASA will gear up for their big event ‘Sites and Sounds of Africa’. As Melanee Crist put it, “Food Fest tickles the senses and feeds the body, but Sites and Sounds of Africa feeds the mind.” This annual ASA sponsored program has gained campus-wide recognition.
International Education Week is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education is part of our efforts to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States. IEW was first held in 2000 and today it’s celebrated in more than 100 countries worldwide.
As part of International Education week, Truman clubs and organizations sponsored events such as the African Students’ Association Food Fest, the Taste of Islam Muslim Students Association Dinner, the Latin American Students Discussion Panel, the International Fashion Show, a Study Abroad Reception, and an International Flag Display in the Student Union Building.
International students studying at Truman can look forward to a strong support structure of both American and international students. Truman strives to make sure that this support continues after acceptance and orientation, which is where Academic Success Mentors (ASMs) come into play.
ASMs are a group of academically successful students who work alongside incoming freshmen and transfer international students. All new students are assigned a mentor that they will meet with each week throughout the semester to talk about classes, grades, study skills, and adjusting to life here at Truman. Every ASM enjoys the opportunity to work with students from around the world! International students who study at Truman already have a record of academic achievement, and ASMs are there to make sure students can continue to succeed.
Academic Success Mentor Coordinator Rachel McNeil enthusiastically speaks about the program whenever she gets a chance. “From my experience, Truman is a unique school in how much it cares about helping its international population succeed academically and socially. Truman is a pretty rigorous but fulfilling school, and I think it is amazing that each incoming student gets one on one attention their first semester here.
“It creates a special bond between mentor and student,” she continued, “even to the point where, semesters after they were in the program, former students have gone to their old mentors with questions or problems because they know that there is someone who really cares about helping them reach their full potential.”
The month of Kartik, late September and early October, signals the longest and most festive event of the Nepalese annual calendar, Dashain! It is the celebration of good over evil that surrounds the story of a goddess from the kingdom of Nepal who destroyed an evil demon named Mahishasura.
Just as it is celebrated by every Nepalese family, the students of the Nepalese organization on campus, Namaste Nepal, invited all Truman students, professors, and families to enjoy and take part in this happy tradition!
Performances and entertainment were followed by spicy and delicious Nepalese dishes. Students performed traditional dances, sang traditional and famous modern songs, and played games and presented prizes.Smoke Signals, a band well known in Kirksville started by Nepalese Truman students, even made a guest appearance! Brian Cheah, Senior Malaysian Truman student, said, “The food was great and a taste of home, since Malaysia has a lot of spicy South Asian food. Namaste Nepal picked very good vocalists and performances. I enjoyed all of them, and I would love to visit Nepal one day!”
Homecoming is a time for current students and alumni to gather together with family, friends, and the Kirksville community. The whole week is full of traditions that celebrate Truman State University’s long history.
As part of this year’s annual homecoming parade, many of Truman’s international students dressed in traditional clothing and proudly marched through the streets, waving their flags and representing their countries. Di Zhu, a sophomore student from China who transferred to Truman after a year in the exchange program, said, “I am so proud of China, and this is a time that I can represent my country… China has changed so much and I want to show its wonderful history and culture to Truman and the Kirksville community.”
Truman has become a home to many students like Di Zhu. She told the ISAO, “I really love Truman because it’s a nice place to study. It is full of good students and very good academic resources and equipment. It is good for me to study here.”
Kelsey Jensen was recently named the new International Admissions Coordinator at Truman State University. Kelsey will coordinate international student recruitment efforts and admission processing for prospective international students.
According to Melanee Crist, Assistant Director of International Education, “Kelsey has all the qualities that Truman sought for this position. She is friendly, professional, motivated and enthusiastic. She loves to travel internationally and has a proven record of effective intercultural communication.”
Kelsey is originally from Urbandale, Iowa, three hours Northwest of Truman.
She graduated with a degree in International Studies from Missouri Southern State University, where she also spent time working with the arrival, orientation and support of international students. In addition, Kelsey has experience as an international student herself having spent 12 months as a high school student studying in Brazil and as a university student she taught teaching English in China.
When asked why she chose to work for Truman, Kelsey said, “Truman offers an exceptional educational experience. The faculty challenges and supports students to new levels of thinking and works to get students excited and involved in the process. Everything about Truman is exceptional, especially the price – it is an amazing value.”
Kelsey says she already enjoys her work at Truman. “I love the people I have met here. You can’t go around town without seeing a friendly smile. This is a very welcoming place for international students.”
Truman was recently ranked as the #1 Public University in the Midwest for the 17th Consecutive year (U.S. News & World Report, “America’s Best Colleges”, 2014).
Kelsey can be reached at email@example.com.
Once again the Society for Sino-American Studies’ (SSAS) Mid-Autumn Moon Festival was a huge success! The event began with the playing of traditional drums, followed by the story of Chang’e, the Moon Goddess of Immortality.
Music, dances, and stories filled the Student Activities Building as students performed to celebrate September’s full moon. Years of tradition and the modern lives of students were combined into the event. Over one hundred Truman students, families, and staff showed up to enjoy the traditional Chinese food and entertainment!
The SSAS has been a home for Asian students studying abroad at Truman for many years. SSAS members regularly spend time having fun together, supporting each other in academics, relationships, and activities.
Recently Truman began an exciting new cultural exchange study abroad program to China, which attracts students from many other countries and will continue to bring traditional Chinese celebrations like the Moon Festival to Kirksville.
What better way to end the month of September than with a wonderful interactive display of Vietnamese traditions, cuisine, and culture? Truman State University’s Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) recently held their first ever cultural event, “Across Vietnam.”
VSA was officially chartered last spring, and since then, this student organization has brought much attention, attraction, and interest to Vietnamese culture.
Across Vietnam was held in a common outdoor area on campus, where students often gather next to the university fountain. In just a few hours leading up to the event, the VSA had transformed this part of campus into a Vietnamese holiday market filled with games, prizes, activities, food, and more! People were soon lined up to taste all of the home-cooked dishes and learn about a beatutiful part of Vietnamese culture.
“This event is important because the Vietnamese student population is the second-largest among the International students at Truman,” said Junior Tuan Dang, Executive Chief of VSA. “A big event like ‘Across Vietnam’ will help others see the strong representation of the Vietnamese students on campus.”
In the last three years, Truman’s Vietnamese student population has tripled. The VSA has not only become a place of encouragement for many of these students, but also a family. Members are hard-working, passionate, and excited to share their culture and will continue to do so with many more events to come!