Society for International Students

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Society for International Students Blog

Officer Elections 2015-2016

by Loanne Liu on December 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

As Fall semester comes to an end, it also signifies the end of service for current SIS officers. The year of 2014 has been a very successful year for the SIS, thanks to the current officers. Many activities were planned for students, such as cultural hours, field day, international education week and lastly elections for new officers. We would like to thank all current officers with the leadership of SIS president Ms. Yekaterina Solomkina for all the hard work and dedication to the SIS.
Elections were held on December 3rd and we are pleased to announce the new SIS officers for 2015-2016.

President

Maristella Freire, Brazil

Vice President

Ojotule Obi-Egwale, Canada

Ojotule Obi-Egwale, Canada

Secretary

Kristiel Alvarado, Belize

Kristiel Alvarado, Belize

Treasurer

Diane Isibor, Nigeria

Diane Isibor, Nigeria

Event Coordinator

Haben Kiros, Ethiopia

Haben Kiros, Ethiopia

Public Relations Coordinator

Naomi Chee, Belize

Naomi Chee, Belize

Assistant Photographer

Haram Moon, Republic of Korea

Haram Moon, Republic of Korea

We would like to thank everyone who is interested in making the Society of International Students the best student organization. We would also like to thank all candidates for being brave and making the right choice to improve student life at Valdosta State University. Congratulations to everyone and we look forward to the upcoming school year!

Fall 2014 Activities

by Loanne Liu on October 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

The Society of International Students has been very busy planning and organizing student activities to promote the organization. The organization has been attracting new collaborations with other departments on campus such as Social Equity and the Honors College. The SIS has recently launched its new official T-shirts, which can be purchased at $20.00. The T-shirt consists of the SIS logo along with the famous slogan “Bringing the nations to the Blazer nation.” The slogan reflects the entire motto of the organization which is to bring culture and diversity to the Valdosta State University campus and Valdosta Community.

New SIS T-shirts! Basak Isik (Turkey), Estefania Ybarra (Mexico)

New SIS T-shirts!
Basak Isik (Turkey), Estefania Ybarra (Mexico)

Cultural Hours have been a success since it started. Student have enjoyed experiencing a new country every other week and having a little taste of around the world. The SIS also hosted a field day where students had a chance to play childhood games such as: lime and spoon, balloon toss and the main event was a water melon eating contest.
Lime and Spoon Contest

Lime and Spoon Contest

Watermelon Eating Contest

Watermelon Eating Contest

This month, the SIS will be participating in VSU’s homecoming parade. Be sure to look out for all the colorful flags and traditional attire. During the month of November International Education Week will be celebrated whereby the SIS has an entire week of activities planned. Be sure to check our Facebook or student emails for more information. We would like to thank all students for supporting the Society of International Students, we want to make your college experience a memorable one. If you have any suggestions on how to improve activities please contact us.

38th Annual International Dinner

by Loanne Liu on April 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

International students – unique, diverse, and proud blazers! As a part of the large blazer family, we have a commitment to return to the community that have embraced our unique presence and welcomed us all with open arms, semester after semester. This spring semester, the biggest project that we have had to tackle is the INTERNATIONAL DINNER. This dinner is the third largest event of the school, and as a result, takes lots of time to prepare and practice. ID putting up flags

All the individuals, both students and citizens of Valdosta, who attend are always left impressed, well fed, and very entertained. However, this blog won’t be focused on what happened the night, but rather the events that led to the spectacular night and the people who made the event possible. We won’t deny the fact that the last days leading up to the event were the most chaotic; everyone was scattered and last minute changes to the programs were being made. However, many moments of laughter, small jokes, and clowning around took place. I believe that what made each moment even more special was the fact that everyone was trying to have fun while working. Remember, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

President Katya from Kazakhstan and Vice President Gloria De La Garza from Mexico

President Katya from Kazakhstan and Vice President Gloria De La Garza from Mexico

The day that often tests the patience of all those involved is the practice evening held the day before the dinner. In addition, while the practice was taking place, there is a full staff kitchen in Hopper Dining Hall with a very talented and dedicated group of international students who were putting their taste buds and time to the test. I was able to take a peak in the kitchen, and if you love food just as much as I do, you would have wanted to taste everything that was being made. There were cuisines from all over the globe being made and perfected, and there I was hanging around in the kitchen with a camera and the urges to dip my finger in the batter that Daniel was making and pick on pieces of Turkmen patty that Merdan, Suleyman, Genna, Carly and Jordan were working on.

Belizean students: Carly, Idelfonso and Jordan cooking in the kitchen

Belizean students: Carly, Idelfonso and Jordan cooking in the kitchen

Columbian Student: Daniel Araque cooking

Columbian Student: Daniel Araque cooking

After getting away from the hall of temptations (Hopper Hall), I went back to the Student Union where I caught many of the other international students practicing their performance. I got a chance to learn a few steps of Azonto from Tochi, Somaya, and Vianey, pick up a few words from the K-pop song that was being danced by the flash mob, and got to walk around the stage with the hosts of the show: Aysia and Kirk.

Francisca (Belize), Aysia (USA) and Mistress of Ceremony, Waleed (Saudi Arabia)

Francisca (Belize), Aysia (USA) and Mistress of Ceremony, Waleed (Saudi Arabia)


Japanese Students about to practice their traditional Japanese dance

Japanese Students about to practice their traditional Japanese dance

The night was a long one for all those who were preparing for the successful day to come. Even though, for the most part I was walking around and taking pictures, through my lens, I was able to capture the effort, dedication, and work put into the International Dinner by the international student community of Valdosta State.

Student at the 38th Annual International Dinner

Student at the 38th Annual International Dinner

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO NAOMI CHEE FROM BELIZE FOR SUBMITTING THIS WONDERFUL PIECE ON HER FIRST INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE AT VALDOSTA STATE UNIVERSITY. WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL THE STUDENTS AND MEMBERS OF THE VALDOSTA STATE COMMUNITY FOR MAKING THIS EVENT A SUCCESS. WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU ALL AGAIN NEXT YEAR.

Naomi Chee (Belize)

Naomi Chee (Belize)

Preparations for 38th Annual International Dinner

by Loanne Liu on March 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

Every year the Society of International Students(SIS) hosts one of the largest events at Valdosta State University.It is called the International Dinner and this year is the 38th time it is being held. The International Dinner has become an annual event whereby international students attending the school work together to plan and host the event. This year’s theme is Journey around the world, the dinner will be based around the theme of travelling around the world. Food from the four continents: Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas will be served buffet style. While guests eat, they will be entertained with traditional dances, songs and even music performances by international students and student organizations. For this event to be possible, the SIS does fundraising to help cover some expenses. So far the SIS had a Valentine Bake sale whereby Valentine cards written in foreign languages were sold, along with decorated cupcakes.

Valentine Bake Sale

Valentine Bake Sale


This Friday the SIS will have an International Bake sale whereby international treats will be sold. This event is one of a kind because it is student driven, meaning that every part of this event involves students. The money raised goes towards the international student foundation that helps provide opportunities for international students attending Valdosta State University. It is also a night to share diversity and culture with the Valdosta Community. There are many ways in which one can support this wonderful event. One main way to help is by becoming a sponsor of the event, attending the event or participating in the silent auction and raffles during the event. We hope to have a sold out show and once again impress our guests. The International Dinner will be held on March 29 at 6:00 p.m., tickets can be purchased at the Center for International Programs or on March 11 at North Campus and on March 13 at the Student Union on Main Campus at Valdosta State University.
Journey Around the World

Journey Around the World


We would like to thank everyone for being part of such a unique event and we hope to see you all there!For more information visit our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sis.vsu!

Welcome back

by Loanne Liu on January 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

The Society of International Students would like to welcome all new and returning students. This semester we started off our first Cultural hour featuring Japan. We were very pleased with the attendance and participation of the students. The Cultural hour started with a quiz based on Japan, followed by making your own Mochi. Mochi is a Japanese rice cake, then students enjoyed playing a card game called Karuta.

Students playing Karuta

Students playing Karuta

After all the fun games, students got a taste of delicious Japanese food. Students were then offered the chance to wear Japanese Kimonos. We would like to thank Ms. Ai Kataoka for planning the event and joining with the SIS to make this event such a success. We look forward to keep sharing culture here at VSU.
Students in Kimonos

Students in Kimonos

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New SIS officers 2014

by Loanne Liu on November 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Society for International Students would like to introduce its new Executive committee leaders. Elections were held on Friday November 8, whereby students were given the chance to vote online. The new president, Katya Solomkina, is a very energetic and friendly young lady who is a sophomore from the country of Kazakhstan. She is also a senator of the Student Government Association at Valdosta State University. We are very excited to work with her because we know she will do an extraordinary job at representing the Society for International Students on campus.

Katya Solomkina

Katya Solomkina

Our newly elected vice president,Gloria De la Garza, is a Freshman majoring in Chemistry. She is from Mexico and has shown interest in making the Society of International Students her priority.
Gloria De la Garza

Gloria De la Garza


We are eager to see how the SIS grows with the new leadership of these two talented young ladies. With talent being mentioned, our newly elected event coordinator, Tatiana Tsaruk, is a very artistic young lady. She enjoys singing, dancing and art. We are glad to have her on our committee because we know she has creative ideas for our events.
Tatiana Tsaruk

Tatiana Tsaruk

Returning to her previous position, Marie Reyes is our treasurer once again. We are also happy to have her back because she will be important in helping the newly elected officers with their roles.
Marie Reyes

Marie Reyes

Giselle Greaux is our new Publicity Coordinator and we believe she will do a great job in this position. She is an International Business and Marketing major who contributed to the creation of the new App, Blazernation here at VSU. She is very friendly and outgoing, which is a great quality we appreciate in our leaders. We are so excited to be working with such talented and friendly young ladies.
Giselle Greaux

Giselle Greaux

Our newly elected secretary, Dilcia Turcios is a senior majoring in Intercultural Communication. She loves learning about new cultures and sharing her own. She is a very dynamic young lady that loves to meet new people. We are excited to have her on our committee because she has shown interest in making the SIS her priority as well.
Dilcia Turcios

Dilcia Turcios


This year we created a special position Graphic Designer for a very talented young lady, her name is Eliza Reyes. She is a sophomore from Belize Central America who has been creating all the SIS flyers and graphics needed to promote our events.
Eliza Reyes

Eliza Reyes


We really appreciate her work and time she has given to this organization. We would like to officially welcome her to the Executive Committee and let her know that we look forward to continue working along with her. We would like to thank all of these brave young ladies for accepting these important positions and to be the leaders of a growing international student community. We look forward to making 2014 a better experience for international students here at Valdosta State University.

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Nigerian Cultural Hour

by Loanne Liu on October 21, 2013 in Uncategorized
Flag of Nigeria

Flag of Nigeria

WA-as the Yoruba will say. Zo-as the Hausa will say. BIA-as the Igbo will say.

WAZOBIA-Come, come, come!
Friday the 11th of October was definitely a beautiful day to share Nigerian culture! Since Nigeria had just celebrated her independence on the 1st of October, the SIS thought it plausible to make Friday’s cultural hour a celebration of Nigeria’s vibrant culture.

This culture-sharing event began at exactly 2:00pm and took place in the Center for International Programs building. Students arrived promptly, enthusiastic to embrace the Nigerian culture, food, languages, etc.
The president of the organization, Chioma Madueke, a Nigerian, started off the event by showing a video about what Nigeria and life in this amazing country looks like. The video discussed the various recreational spots in Nigeria, the different cultures of various Nigerian ethnic groups, the food, and so on. This video also helped in dispelling the myths some students had about Nigeria and helped the students see Nigeria and the Nigerian culture in a different light.

Chioma Madueke, President of SIS

Chioma Madueke, President of SIS

Somai Nwokike, the Secretary of the organization and another Nigerian student, and Chioma, also enlightened the students about the various languages, food preferences, and all other interesting facts about the Nigerians. There are three major languages from the three major ethnic groups: Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa. There are over 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria. You know what else is pretty cool? In those ethnic groups there are different languages, and for those languages, there are different dialects! This right here is a salad bowl of diverse cultures! Can you believe that?

Somai Nwokike

Somai Nwokike

Moving on, Nigerians enjoy having their food spicy! Chioma and Somai explained that one of the adjustments they had to make when they moved to the US was concerning the food. For example, whenever they want to prepare a Nigerian dish for their American friends, they have to bring the spices down a notch. Although they do like their spicy food, they have to accommodate different cultures and people of those cultures who are not exactly used to spicy food. This is also one of the main goals of the SIS—to encourage students to embrace/accommodate various cultures.
Speaking of food, after the info session about different aspects of the Nigerian culture, it was time for the food!! The dish for Friday was something the Nigerians call Jollof Rice and it was served with plantains. Kudos to our chefs Somai and Tochukwu Madueke, the PR Officer of the SIS, and also another of our Nigerian students, because the food was AMAZING! Jollof Rice is one dish that is common amongst all Nigerian people, irrespective of their ethnic groups. It is also a pretty common dish in some parts of Africa.

Serving Jollof Rice and Plantains

Serving Jollof Rice and Plantains

In all, the event was a success. The guests that attend had their perspectives broadened by learning more about the Nigerian culture. The SIS is definitely pleased to have some Nigerian students in the organization who keep sharing their amazing culture.

That’s all for now folks! As the Nigerian Igbo people will say—Daalu oo! Nwe ubosi oma!

Special  thank you to the author of this post Tochukwu Madueke our public relations officer for the SIS!

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SIS wins Homecoming parade 2013

by Loanne Liu on October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

Every year Valdosta State University celebrates its Homecoming whereby students are encouraged to participate in several activities. The theme for this year’s homecoming was commUNITY. The Society for International Students incorporated the theme and came up with their own which was 50 nations, 1 commUNITY. The 50 nations is the amount of countries represented by international students attending VSU which makes up one community. The theme was appropriate for the SIS because the organization is on a mission to be more active on campus.

50 nations, 1 commUNITY!

50 nations, 1 commUNITY!


On Saturday October 7, international students began to congregate at the Center for International programs at approximately 9 a.m. They were encouraged to wear VSU colors or traditional outfits from their home country. Many came out representing their home countries and were eager to participate in the parade. Students were provided with flags from their home country in which they held or wore as part of their clothing.
Students in Traditional Dress!

Students in Traditional Dress!


The parade began at 11 a.m. and the SIS had international music played by a Belizean Dj, Dj Karlo. The music was very live and our students celebrated by singing and dancing throughout the parade.
Dj Karlo!

Dj Karlo!

We also had a student dressed up as VSU’s mascot, Blaze who lead the SIS in the parade. Students also gave out candy to the children during the parade.
International Students during the homecoming parade!

International Students during the homecoming parade!


The SIS also had its homecoming queen representative, Dilcia Turcios from Honduras in the parade. This was her first homecoming parade and she was honored to represent the SIS.
SIS Homecoming Queen candidate Dilcia Turcios from Honduras!

SIS Homecoming Queen candidate Dilcia Turcios from Honduras!

The SIS was so colorful in the parade with all the flags and energetic students which made us win the Presidents award. We are very proud to win this award and we couldn’t have done it without our students!

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Cultural Hour

by Loanne Liu on September 23, 2013 in SIS Events

This past Friday the SIS was pleased to host its first Cultural Hour. At approximately 2:00 p.m. students arrived and were eager to find out what Cultural Hour was all about. The Cultural Hour started off of by introducing the SIS officers, followed by introducing the 10 Belizean students present

Belizean students from Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize City and Belmopan!

Belizean students from Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize City and Belmopan!

After introductions, a video created by one of the Belizean students, Jason Castillo, was shown. The video was a compilation of people, culture, and music from Belize. It displayed traditional music, and featured popular tourist attractions such as Mayan sites and the great barrier reef. Dj Karlo, also from Belize, was entertaining guests with traditional music throughout the Cultural Hour. Next, students were given a description of the food provided. Garnaches was the main entree, which is made with a fried corn tortilla then topped with re-fried beans. Once the beans are pasted on the tortilla you can garnish it with onion or cabbage sauce, and lastly you add crumbled cheese. This food is typical to the Mestizo culture and is a popular street food sold all over Belize. Garnaches are eaten with the hands and usually eaten for dinner in most Belizean homes. The dessert provided were bread and rice pudding. Both desserts are some of the typical desserts eaten in Belize.
Students making Garnaches

Students making Garnaches

After guests enjoyed the scrumptious treats they were asked to return to their seats so that they can ask about questions they were interested in knowing about the country. Students were eager to know about the different ethnic groups in Belize such as Mestizo, Creole, Garifuna, Chinese and East Indian. They were also interested in the different sports played, which include: soccer, baseball, basketball, volleyball and cricket. This portion of the Cultural Hour encouraged the sharing of experiences and participation among students.
Students from Korea, Belize and Honduras at Cultural Hour

Students from Korea, Belize and Honduras at Cultural Hour

All in all, the SIS is pleased to say that the first Cultural Hour was a success and we will be preparing for the second one in 2 weeks. We would like to thank everyone who attended, we encourage you to share your experience and let us know all about it. The SIS would like to thank everyone who helped with preparations, setup and clean up. We look forward to have very successful Cultural Hours throughout the semester.

Art and Dancing

by Loanne Liu on September 10, 2013 in Student Experiences

ART AND DANCING
By Roberto Leal

It was a bustling Wednesday night. The sun had set, leaving behind a trail of dark skies, paving the way for assignments and projects. I had a load of reading to get done, so I decided to make a stop at Starbucks. I got a Doppio Espresso, and decided to take a seat near the window facing Baytree road. The sight of the last rays of sunlight above the education building reminded me that time was of essence. Looking through the glass walls of Starbucks I noticed someone drawing on the whiteboard, but it wasn’t much at the time so I ignored it. Yet looking up a few minutes later I noticed the artwork spread across the board. I couldn’t quite make it out, so I put on my good old glasses to get a better look. To my surprise the artwork reminded me of the Mayan carvings from Belize. I went towards the whiteboard to get a better view, and while the artwork was not Mayan it was a well-drawn piece. Art
I asked the artist what was the occasion for, but there was none. It is something the artist does during her free time, and so began our conversation. Strangely some of the topics we discussed reminded me of my home country. Hannah Kortrey is a dance major here at Valdosta State University, and comes from Macon Georgia. I never expected her to be a dance major, for her artwork labeled her as an art major.
Her doodling skills started during the tenth grade, when she was drawing bubble letters for a friend. Each bubble letter was filled with a different pattern, similar to her current artwork. In a way drawing allowed her to connect to people, for her work invited people to requested similar drawings. Even today her work is noticed by students here at VSU, and it allows her to connect to people as it did in High School. It became part of her throughout the years, to where it could be described as a form of “pouring out her heart” in a visual form.
Hannah’s artwork reminded me of the Mayan sites back in my home country Belize. Though they are different, the form reminded me of them. Mayan artwork has always amazed me, as have their history. In my hometown Corozal, I wasn’t too far away from a Maya site. The Santa Rita Mayan site was only about fifteen minutes away from my house, that I could always ride my bike to its location. The Mayas left a story within their artwork, and it was recognized throughout the world. It allowed the Mayas to connect with those who found their history interesting. I can still remember as a child how I would run up the ruin and pretend I was one of them—though at the time the ruin was not fully excavated. Mayan culture has always motived me to seek them out, and to remember where home is, even as I study here in the US. In a similar way Hannah’s art is leaving a history, not for the world maybe, but for her and those who get a chance to see it, and in the process allows them to connect with her.Santa Rita
In addition to drawing Hannah can also dance. Her journey started in ballet class when she was five years old. She enjoyed it and eventually fell in love with it, but it wore her out during the fifth grade, leaving dancing in her shadow for a while. It slowly regained a place in her heart, for like art it allowed her to connect to people. At a young age she was extremely shy, quiet, and didn’t say much. Dancing was the only thing people knew her for—they didn’t know her voice yet, nor did she. And like most of us, we all wish to be heard. We all express our voice in different forms, whether it be dancing, drawing, or other creative ways. Dancing influenced her a great deal, and allowed her to regain motivation. It led her to participate in various competitions, and finally allowed her to realize that dancing was what she wanted to do.Corozal Bay
I’ve always compared dancing to the ocean, for the form and mood is almost similar. I was fortunate to grow up in a town, Corozal, which had a seafront—and it always gives me a reason to return home. I remember the cool nights by the ocean as I sat under a tree staring into the wide expanse of the sea. Its waves flowing towards me, and the wind playing its music as the moon looked down providing the light for the show. Strange don’t you think that it reminds you of dancing, a show probably, with the crowd staring, the orchestra playing, and the lights revealing to us the dancer.04 Corozal Sunrise
The ocean front also brings people together, allowing them to connect, in a similar fashion dancing allowed Hannah to connect to people. It goes to show you how beautiful some things are in the world, and how closely they resemble things we do in life. We could say art and dancing are one in the same, and together they form an ocean of history, close to the likes of the Mayans, the sea, and Hannah. At least that is how I see it.05 Hannah

Special Thank you to Roberto Leal for writing this amazing piece, Art and Dancing. This talented young man is an international student from Belize Central America pursuing two Bachelor’s Degrees in English and Mass Media. Today, Belize celebrates the 10th of September because In 1796 England and Spain went to formal war, and the Spanish made a determined effort to free the area from the unwelcome English. A Spanish naval force was sent from Campechy, Yucatan in the summer of 1798 against the settlement at the Belize River, but the English learned of their intent and repulsed them from fortifications on St. Georges Caye. On September 21st, Belize will be celebrating its Independence! A special thank you to Hannah for sharing her talent and story to be featured in this wonderful piece.