Students wave their flags on stage at the 2018 International Gala. (image credit: Andrea Bard)

The International Student Association (ISA) will be hosting its annual International Gala on Friday, April 12 at 5:30 p.m. in the Athletic Complex. The event will feature over 70 international students representing their home countries. Tickets are being sold to students for $9.99, community members for $16.99 and kids under the age of five will be able to enter the event for free.

This event is meant to be a celebration of the diversity on SNHU’s campus and to bridge the gap between international and domestic students. University Campus President Patty Lynott will be kicking off the event with a speech. Following her appearance will be a parade of flags where students representing all different countries will march with their nation’s flags up to the stage.

Many attendees will also be wearing traditional attire representing their country’s culture and traditions.

In addition to a marching parade, dinner will be served. Food will include a variety of cuisines from various countries. Dinner will be accompanied by student performances including singing, dancing and a small skit from the drama club.

President of the International Student Association, Emmanuel Audu (‘19), spoke passionately about the association’s mission to eradicate the divide between international and domestic students on campus. He mentioned how language and cultural barriers can inhibit both domestic and international students from trying to form relationships with each other.

“We also are a little bit lonely – the international students,” said Audu. “We need to connect with people. We didn’t just come all the way from our home to come here and study. We also came to experience another culture. We also came to experience how people live. We also came to make friends.”

Coming from Nigeria where the universal language is English, Audu acknowledged the advantage which he had over other international students who came to America not knowing how to speak the native language. He believes that the responsibility to break the ice falls to domestic students because they are already comfortable in their environment. They only have to realize that international students are not that different.

“If you’re expecting international students to start up a conversation in the midst of five or six people, then you are wasting your time…Most times you feel like this is not my area, this is not my culture, this is not my country,” Audu said.

Audu expressed his wish for the International Gala to be that opportunity for domestic students and international students to interact without inhibitions.

“Yes, we all have different culture and a different lifestyle, but we still do the same things, just in different ways,” Audu said.

Advisor to ISA, Communications Professor Andrea Bard, shares Audu’s viewpoints. She encourages students to come to this event so that they can experience different cultures and unite with their classmates. She assures all prospective attendees that this will be an “outstanding” event, and everyone who goes will be happy they went.

“All humans are human. We all have the same needs and desires and loves and that really shows during that night,” said Bard.

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