International Week looks to unify campus

International student organizations held a series of events to unite the GW community last week during the Program Board’s annual multicultural celebration.

International Week coordinator Ramya Vivekanandan said the programs unified the campus.

“This year, I-Week was marked with more international events that combined cultural groups,” she said. “Instead of having a lot of separate nights (for each nationality), everybody participated in programs. It was more integrated.”

Some events catered to specific cultures, but attracted a diverse group.

Saturday was Bob Marley Day and more than 100 students gathered on the Quad to jam to reggae tunes by live bands.

Vendors sold hats, shirts, Bob Marley CDs and other items. Exotic Tropics Caterers sold Caribbean dishes, including creole fish, curried and jerk chicken and tropical fruit drinks.

Also on Saturday, the Japanese Intercultural Network hosted the Spirit of Japan. Students participated in yo-yo fishing in a kiddie pool outside of Marvin Center Colonial Commons. JIN served sushi and held a karate presentation. And students also enjoyed karaoke.

Students wore traditional attire at last week’s Latin American Culture Night. A disc jockey played Latino music in J Street.

Students had a taste of international flavors at Cafe Gelman Thursday night. It was held as part of the library’s 25th anniversary.

Students and faculty read poetry in an open mike session. The GW jazz combo and GW’s a cappella groups, The Pitches and the Troubadours, performed as well.

Students were served international foods such as baklava, french pastries and Italian cookies.

Junior Sabina Siddiqui said Cafe Gelman was an international experience.

“I was surprised at the turnout,” Siddiqui said. “I was impressed with the diverse students that were able to find time to attend. I was equally impressed with the atmosphere created that allowed students to interact.”

Last weekend students participated in Unity Fest ’98 that celebrated different cultures all day in the Marvin Center. Several workshops were organized to address diversity issues.

Students played a game of Stereapardy, a takeoff of the Jeopardy game show. Students were asked to take a stereotype and match it to the culture.

Students also attended workshops on being a “hyphenated American,” which addressed America being a melting pot or a patchwork quilt of cultures.

On Wednesday, Hillel sponsored “Israel at 50: What’s Next for the Jewish State.” The panel discussion covered the situation in the Middle East and the tension between Israelis and Palestinians over the occupation of the West Bank.

Arab students in attendance spoke about how Arabs must have license plates that designate their nationality. Students also complained about the checkpoints in the West Bank and how Arabs are stereotyped as terrorists in Jerusalem.

Vivekanandan said International Week brought the Jewish and Arab student groups together. She said International Week should set an example for these groups.

In the past, Jewish and Arab student groups have not successfully co-sponsored events, Vivekanandan said. “But even if they are not co-sponsoring events, they are attending each other’s events, and I hope they start doing things together.”

Vivekanandan said she hopes International Week can be the catalyst to unify the GW community.

“A lot of people have been talking about groups segregating themselves on campus,” she said. “When people attend each other’s events, it brings different people together.”-Rania Swadek and Chioma Oruh contributed to this report.

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