An international student’s perspective:
International herd enjoys American picnic
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 12:09
International students from the Tri-college Universities had a taste of the “good old fashioned American Picnic” this Sunday at the welcome dinner hosted by Rotary Club of Fargo-Moorhead on September 16.
It was an amazing sight to experience some of the most beautiful minds from all across the globe, as they huddled under a picnic shed at Lindenwood Park on a relatively cold Sunday evening. Students from 59 different nationalities dotted the magnificent collage.
The event organized by the Department of District Youth Exchange of the Rotary Club was a grand success as multicultural students transcended all divisions of borders and ethnicities. The “herd of Bison” got a chance to interact with their peers from Concordia and MSUM while enjoying a typical American picnic dinner of hamburgers, lemonade and cookies. Past Governor of Rotary Club Gary Nolte presided over the function, and his team of volunteers left no stone unturned in making everyone feel at home.
This was the 22nd year of the picnic and the tradition started in 1990 at the Bonanzaville airplane hanger in West Fargo. Each year it has been successfully carried out to introduce International Student community to the American way of having fun.
Provost of the Tri-college Universities Marsha Kurst had laid down the foundations of this event and the Rotary Club took over the baton in 1991. They have been organizing this event ever since.
With 50 volunteers dishing out great food and pleasant smiles, the Rotary Club passed their motto of “Peace through Service” to this new community. Gary Nolte noted that the number of international students has been on the rise in the United States in the past two decades.
According to Nolte, the reason behind this is that the students get exposed to a more heterogeneous environment here. He believes that international students are an equally important part of the student community in the United States as they bring with them the culture that America would not have experienced otherwise.
Nolte, who has been associated with this event for the longest, explained how the cultural diversity seen in classrooms today echoes the message of peace. He thinks that the students are the pillars of equality in diversity and it is this feeling of oneness amongst them will erase all boundaries.
It was wonderful to see how the students were unfazed by the unpredictable weather as they went around merrily uniting under the banner of the Rotary Club.
Jean Hannig, who works with the District 5580 Youth Exchange program, added that in her 15 years with this event, she has felt that “students never recognize themselves by their nationalities or even colleges; all they realize here is they are all humans.”
She says the idea behind this picnic was “bringing all cultures together and making them recognize that we are all one human family” and she was overwhelmed to see that their dream was more than realized here.
The Director of International Student Services at MSUM said that it was a chance to display to these students that in their pursuit of quality education, they had made the right choice by coming to United States. She feels that the American society is incomplete without the diversity that these “international individuals” bring to the campuses and the community.
Director of International programs at NDSU Lisa Huack thinks that students from each nationality represent something best about their culture and bring in a part of the goodness that enriches American values further.
The excitement grew as temperatures dropped and vice president of Equity & Diversity Programs at NDSU Evie Myers lifted the Bison spirits and got the crowd grooving to cheers of “Go Bison.” It was also surprising how the Dragon and Cobber students participated in the loud cheering and supported the fellow Bison community as well.
When the evening came to an end, Nolte had just one message for the international student community on behalf of the Americans: “You are welcome.”