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 presentAfter 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. 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. 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.
Society for International Students Blog
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Society for International Students has been hosting bi-weekly Coffee hours for the past 2-3 years. Coffee hours were created to encourage interaction between International Students and American Students. These Coffee hours have been successful and our students really enjoy it! Since the friendship between students has been created, we now want to implement our goals and values as an organization.
The SIS officers decided on changing Coffee hour to Cultural Hour! Cultural Hour will now focus on a different country every time it is held. It will highlight students from that country and interesting facts they would like to share. By encouraging the students to share about their country, we will be fulfilling our duty as an organization. We want students to learn about other cultures and share their own. Cultural Hour will not be an event whereby you will just sit and listen, it will be very interactive and fun. Students are always eager to share their experience of living in the U.S and how life was when living in their home country.
Apart from sharing culture, Cultural hour will feature a traditional dish from the country being featured for that day! It will be a great way to experience a taste of abroad right here in Valdosta! The SIS hopes to attract new and returning students and anyone who would like to learn more about what the SIS is all about.
The next Cultural hour will be held on Friday, September 20th. The country being featured is Belize, Central America because it will be celebrating its Independence on September 21st!
The SIS would like to thank all students who took the time out to stop by its tent on Thursday August 29th. This student organization is working on improving its presence here at VSU. The Happening was a success for the SIS because it gave a chance for our International students to share their college experience with other students. The SIS would like to mention that anyone attending VSU can become a member of this organization. Some countries that were represented under the SIS tent were Nigeria, Belize, Korea, Honduras. If anyone is interested in meeting more students from other countries we want to invite you to our bi-weekly coffee hours. There will be one this Friday September 6th at 2 p.m. See you there!