Countries converge in debut of International Student Organization show


UH students performed songs from their home countries at the International Students Organization’s fashion and talent show, Monday night at the Student Center Theater. | Pablo Milanese / The Cougar


UH’s International Student Organization presented an opportunity for students from different nations to display their fabrics and fortes Monday night in the Student Center Theater.

ISO president and electrical engineering senior Fahad Mohammed admitted it was challenging to host this event for the first time

“We’re bringing it back because ISO was not there for 20 years,” Mohammed said. “(We want students to know) they can come up here and show whatever talent they have (to promote) their culture. We need to spread the word around more that we have the stage open for them. We (plan to) market ourselves and the event more. Hopefully next time it’ll be better.”

Mohammed said there were supposed to be more performers and variety of talents at the show. Of the 15 students on the event’s agenda, four entered the fashion show and the rest showed off their vocal skills.

“We had a few dancers signed up,” Mohammed said. “But some of the other singers and even the fashion show’s participants, people backed out at the last moment. Some of them have stage fright, and they thought they weren’t ready.”

The students who stayed for the spotlight were proud in representing their culture or country.

“I don’t know how many Hispanics are gonna be in the crowd,” Panamanian advertising student Juan Grimas said. “Not many will understand what I’m singing, but I just hope they will enjoy it.”

Grimas showcased his singing and strumming skills by performing the acoustic version of “El Perdón” by Enrique Iglesias, a song he said has been popular in the Hispanic community in the past six months.

A nutrition student from India, Malika Ghei, called upon her country’s popular culture, namely “Dhoom 3,” one of Bollywood’s highest-grossing films of all time, to perform the song “Kamli” for audiences.

“(The song) is basically her singing to her lover that she’s kind of crazy about him,” Ghei said. “I’ve been singing since a very young age. I’m actually a local Bollywood performer, singing at different gigs and events.”

The show concluded with students modeling traditional clothing from their various home countries including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Senegal.

A panel of judges, made up of members from UH’s units for international students, decided to give a trophy to every participant.

Mohammed found this was a meaningful decision.

“You cannot compare one culture to another and say ‘this culture is more beautiful’,” Mohammed said. “It’s like apples and oranges. I feel like every culture and tradition is beautiful in its own unique way.”

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  • This is a valuable program because being an
    international student isn’t easy, given our complex culture and language.
    Assistance must come from numerous sources to aid these young people embarking on life’s journey. A new award-winning worldwide book/ebook that can aid anyone coming to the US is “What Foreigners
    Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American
    Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More.” It is used in
    foreign Fulbright student programs and endorsed worldwide by ambassadors,
    educators, and editors. It also identifies “foreigners” who became successful
    in the US and how they contributed to our society, including students.

    A chapter on education explains how to be
    accepted to an American university and cope with a confusing new culture,
    friendship process and daunting classroom differences. Some stay after
    graduation. It has chapters that explain how US businesses operate and how to
    get a job (which differs from most countries), a must for those who want to
    work with/for an American firm here or overseas.

    It also has chapters that identify the most
    common English grammar and speech problems foreigners have and tips for easily
    overcoming them, the number one stumbling block they say they have to
    succeeding here.

    Most struggle in their efforts and need guidance from schools’ international departments, immigration protection, host families, concerned neighbors and fellow
    students, and informative books like this to extend a cultural helping hand so
    we all have a win-win situation. Good luck to all wherever you study!

    • Thanks for reading and sharing the info, Lance. Also, yes – being an international student is far from a bragging right. In most cases, we have to climb three mountains to prove our mettle when some only need a mountain and a hill. I’m one so I know.

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