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Society for International Students Blog

Art and Dancing

by Loanne Liu on September 10, 2013 in Student Experiences

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.

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LAST Coffee Hour

by Loanne Liu on September 10, 2013 in SIS Events

Coffee Hour September 6th
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!

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SIS at The Happening

by Loanne Liu on September 3, 2013 in SIS Events


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!

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Fall 2013 New Student Orientation Week and Orientation Leaders

by Lauren Braun on July 22, 2013 in SIS Events

It’s that time of year!

Despite the South Georgia heat and humidity, Summer is moving along steadily. Good luck to all students enrolled in Summer classes and CONGRATULATIONS to our Summer Graduates.

As you might guess, there are students full of anticipation and excitement (and sometimes dread?) as Summer comes to an end and Fall semester comes closer in to view.

We are officially 2 weeks away from welcoming NEW international students to begin their studies at Valdosta State University. Fall 2013 Orientation week will take place August 5th through August 9th.  As part of our Fall traditions, the Society for International Students plays a key role in orientation week. They do so by serving as Orientation Leaders and hosting a welcome cookout for new and returning students. This year, the cookout will be hosted at the VSU Center for International Programs on THURSDAY, August 8th.  ALL ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND! MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

At this time we are welcoming VOLUNTEERS to assist the VSU Center for International Programs during Orientation Week. It will also be a chance for our new students to meet currently enrolled international (and domestic!) students.

If you’re interested in volunteering to be an International Student Orientation Leader, please contact Lauren or Danielle.

 NOTE: There will be 2 Orientation sessions for new F-1 international students and a separate orientation for new J-1 exchange students.

 Students receiving the international student scholarship– becoming an Orientation leader will count towards your scholarship activities (volunteering also counts towards community service hours!).   

We hope you’ll consider being a new student leader and welcoming new international students and exchange students to VSU’s campus.

 Enjoy these last few days of Summer!

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Website and E-mail Changes

by Danielle Bacud on June 21, 2013 in Reminders

Dear students,

As you can see, there has been a lot of changes going on. Another change aside from our new look, is the new e-mail platform that VSU has moved to: Office 365.

What does this mean?

  • There will be changes in how to log-in to your VSU e-mail accounts. Check the following page for the steps you would need to do before logging in to your VSU e-mails for the first time after the migration.
  • Check their FAQ page for the more common questions & answers, regarding the changes.
  • If you’re having trouble with getting/sending e-mails on your mobile devices, check out the guides listed on this page, to see if solves your problem. As always though, contact the IT Helpdesk if you’re having any issues.




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Introducing the NEW Society for International Students BLOG

by Lauren Braun on June 21, 2013 in Reminders

SIS Logo


We are pleased to announce the launch of the NEW Society for International Students BLOG.

SIS students and officers will be asked to contribute various articles throughout the year. We hope this STUDENT DRIVEN site will be a space for new and returning international students to share their experiences about what it’s like to be an international student Valdosta State University.

We also hope to feature and highlight upcoming SIS and VSU Events.

If you are interested in being a blog contributor, or have ideas about the content, please contact me or Danielle Bacud at

We will also send reminders to the Society for International Students Facebook and Campus Connect web pages.

We look forward to hearing your feedback and ideas!

Have a great Summer!

Sr. Educational Specialist, Coordinator of International Student Services

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