Experiencing and trying to understand a new culture while also introducing their native cultures to campus is the challenge that international students often face. Northwestern creates a place for relationships to form between international students and students from the U.S. through the International Club, where students of all different cultures gather and appreciate each other’s diversity.
During chapel on Friday, Feb. 16, different students from the I-Club will be sharing their stories about living in a different culture and talking about their experience attending NW.
“This chapel has been a tradition for several years,” said Associate Dean for Intercultural Development Kevin McMahan.
The chapel service is being planned by McMahan, the 2017-2018 I-Club President Ya-Wen Liu and the I-Club Core Group advised by McMahan.
“I want to let people know what it is like being an international student in school and the different challenges we face,” Liu said. “I want the I-Club chapel service to be a chance for international students to share their stories and let people truly feel more of what we feel. We often assume we know international students’ culture based on news and social media and don’t try to open up to hear about what is actually going on in their culture.”
As for the rest of the year, I-Club has been keeping Liu and her core group of leaders busy with different events. The goal Liu is focusing on with I-Club this year is hosting events attendees can not only enjoy, but also learn from. Every other week, I-Club hosts Mixer Mondays, an event that focuses on learning something fun or interesting about a different country.
Last semester, I-Club kicked off the new school year by hosting an ice cream social, then had an I-Club Coffeehouse a few weeks later. The club also took a trip to Chicago over Fall Break and currently has plans to take another trip over Easter Break. I-Club hosted their biggest event of the year, Cultural Fair 2018 “The Beauty of Difference” a couple weekends ago.
“It has been a very busy schedule,” McMahan said. “We will continue to provide social opportunities for bridging between American and international cultures by building relationships and having the global cultures we have represented at NW be up front with I-Club but not exclusive.”
Another main goal of I-Club this year is to ensure all students know the club is not exclusively for international students and everyone is welcome to participate.
“Part of the challenge is that sometimes we think of international students as a group, but they are as different from each other as they are from Americans,” McMahan said.
There are more I-Club events planned for this semester, and all are welcome and encouraged to attend. The most immediate is the I-Club chapel service at 10:05 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 16.