Campus / News / January 31, 2019

‘Something I have to be proud of’

Students hold the flags of their country during the traditional dress festival. Events for I-Week continue until I-Fair on Saturday, Feb. 2. (Rob Nguyen/TKS)

For the first year since she has been at Knox, senior Nhi Cung is not participating in any of the events during I-Week. Instead, she is one of the International Club execs who are organizing and running the week’s events.

“I took part in everything, like booth fair, food fair and cultural showcase,” Cung said. “So I’m very impressed with how we can show the diversity Knox has.”

Cung is co-president of I-Club, which means she is automatically involved in one of the four committees organizing the different parts of I-Week: the weekday events, the cultural showcase, the booths and the food. Cung is on the weekday events committee.

Cung said creating the week’s schedule involves a lot of cooperation with other clubs. I-Week is run by International Club, who are placed into committees with execs from cultural clubs on campus. The events rely on the participation of the other cultural clubs and individual students. Seeing the diversity Knox has is one of Cung’s favorite parts of the week.

“[It’s good to see] how diverse the food is, and how many different dances from different countries [there are],” she said.

Students showed their culture’s traditional dress for the first event in I-Week on Jan. 28. (Rob Nguyen/TKS)

I-Club is also how senior Michelle Ni has gotten involved in I-Week. She wanted to be a part of I-Fair but not perform in the cultural showcase or cook for the dinner. Ni is leading the committee to organize the booths event for Feb. 2, the same day as the cultural showcase.

She said most of her job consists of emailing clubs and sending out surveys where they can record information about what their booth will include. This year, she was especially paying attention to whether or not the booth planned to be playing music, as she said Rep Term participants had expressed some worries about the sound during their rehearsal that day.

“We’ve had a discussion already about that and I think they’ve had a problem of it before but it didn’t happen during my year last year,” Ni said. “So this year we’re putting extra caution into putting certain clubs that [are] gonna use music or gonna be loud a little bit away from Harbach.”

Other students have gotten involved in organizing I-Week through participating in other clubs that host events during the week.

Junior Amn Farooq is treasurer of Aaina, the South Asian cultural club on campus, and on the committee for the intercultural showcase. Aaina hosted Kala Pola, a South Asian art fair, on Wednesday as part of the weekday events.

Farooq had been involved with organizing the showcase last year as well and fell in love with the event then.

“I feel it for the international students because they come [from] so far away and it’s hard, so I think that’s one of my biggest things about [I-Week]…” Farooq said. “It’s a huge step to just leave your family or your country and travel to a place where you probably have never been before with an entirely different culture.”

Farooq and a friend try to dress up in traditional clothing all week, not just for the traditional clothes show on Monday. This year they are dressing up as much as possible, but new jobs mean they have to wear Western clothing some of the time.

Ni’s favorite part is the food, prepared by students according to their recipes, with help from Dining Services employees.

“I think that’s everyone’s favorite part of I-Fair, actually,” Ni said.

Farooq also pointed to I-Week as something that can serve to really highlight Knox’s international students. Cung agreed, saying it showed off the variety of cultures that meet at Knox.

Besides the cultural clothes, Farooq said she likes to cheer on her friends during the cultural showcase. The sense of camaraderie and community that comes from the event is something all three appreciated and looked forward to.

“It was something very important to me each year, something I had to be proud of because I really love to learn different cultures, and show everyone how my culture is, like how beautiful a culture can be …” Cung said. “So I think that’s the best way to show it, through food and then through performances, so that’s why I really like to be involved with that.”


Connor Wood, Editor-in-Chief
Connor Wood is a senior with a double major in English Literature and Environmental Studies. He started as a volunteer writer and then staff writer his freshman year and was a news editor his sophomore and junior years. He has also worked as a communications intern for the Aldo Leopold Nature Center and as an intern with Unified News Group, both in the Madison, WI, suburbs.

Tags:  clubs food I-Fair I-Week International Club international students organizations

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