Preview: iNight 2017 to close international week in style
On Monday, Ellen Hovde, vice president of the University of Oregon’s International Student Association, handed out free bubble tea on campus to kick off International Week at the university. The giveaway was meant to showcase the country of Taiwan, where bubble tea originated.
Each year, similar events are held throughout week five of spring term. The culmination of the week is International Night, also known as iNight, which includes a three course meal, cultural performances and starting this year, an international fashion show.
“We’re trying to showcase the diversity that we have at UO by asking different international student groups to come and showcase their culture,” Hovde said. She has been with the ISA since she was a sophomore, stepping up her role on the 30 person team each year.
Hovde sees the ISA as a resource for students who are new to the U.S. and iNight as an opportunity to present their culture. “I really like being in the association because you meet a lot of people from all over the world,” Hovde said. “It’s really fun to hear people’s stories.”
Both members of the Vietnamese Student Association and the International Cultural Service Program will perform at iNight. In addition to performances, iNight will include food from restaurants including Sweet Life Patisserie, Evergreen Indian Cuisine, Olive Garden and Angora Cafe.
Hovde said the ISA is there to help “international students adjust to living in the U.S. and to bridge the gap between international and domestic students.”
There are more than 3,200 international students currently attending the University of Oregon, according to the university’s admissions website. That constitutes about 14 percent of the student body.
Jing Tian, who goes by Levy, is a regular attendee of ISA events and also knows about many of the tough adjustments that international students face. Originally from Changchun, the capital city of the Jilin Province in Northeastern China, Levy came to UO for school three years ago. As far as why he moved, Levy says he enjoys Eugene’s atmosphere.
“Eugene is very quiet. I like quiet places,” he said. He was also excited by UO’s excellent business school and is now majoring in economics.
Eugene is a relatively small city in comparison with Changchun, with a population of more than 7.6 million as of the 2010 Chinese census. As of the 2014 U.S. census, Eugene’s population is just over 160,000.
Levy has also experienced the difficulties that come with studying away from home. There are many cultural differences that he has had to adjust to, including restaurants closing early in comparison with those in China. Events such as iNight have been extremely helpful for him.
“I’ve enjoyed meeting other international students,” he said.
Hovde sees the importance of the ISA showcased at the group’s events.
“Our organization gives students who are not from America a voice,” she said. After hours of planning and preparing, iNight is finally coming together for her and her colleagues.
“I’m really, really excited,” she said. “It’s been a lot of work but we’re really lucky that a lot of people want to help us and show off their culture.”
iNight will be held in the EMU Ballroom on Saturday, May 6, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event costs $5 for students with a UO ID card.
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