After nearly two months of planning, the International Student Club hosted its annual coffeehouse on Saturday, March 17. ISC is made up of Goshen College students from nearly 40 countries.
In its humble beginnings, the coffeehouse was hosted in Newcomer Center, but as it gained popularity over the years it was moved to the Umble Center and eventually to Sauder Concert Hall. This year the event required 100 student volunteers who helped with organizing, cooking, performing, ushering and cleaning.
ISC kicked off the night at 5 p.m. with a sold-out meal featuring food from Ethiopia, Ukraine, Nepal, India, Mexico and many other countries. About 400 people attended.
By 7 p.m., nearly 700 people were seated in Sauder for the program.
As in past years, the program commenced with a Parade of Nations. Several dozen students showed off an array of traditional and modern clothing from the countries represented, such as a kanga from Burkina Faso, modeled by Lassane Ouedraogo, a junior.
Following the Parade of Nations, student groups presented over a dozen acts featuring song, dance and poetry. In addition, the night included presentations on the countries of South Korea and Burkina Faso.
Several students participated in more than one act, meaning that they not only gave the audience a taste of their own culture but also captured the essence of cultures that they have experienced through friends. The final act of the night was called “Many Nations: One Dance.” Ten students choreographed the dance by incorporating the dances of four African countries and melding them into a rousing closing piece.
Mohamed Meissara, a junior, impersonating Barack Obama, closed the evening with a brief and poignant message on behalf of ISC. He spoke of ISC’s goal to welcome people from all over the world so that “out of many we all can be one.”
Meissara added, “ISC has always been trying to create one body whose parts are from different countries, different societies and different cultures. Goshen, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that ISC can take us there.”
Samita Thapa, a junior and a key organizer of the event, said, “It is important for the Goshen community to have this program [in order] to see how rich the diversity is here in this little college in the middle of Indiana. You don’t have to go far to taste the diversity; you just have to reach out to the many internationals here.”
Ouedraogo noted that it is valuable to be able to “share what we have with the community that welcomed us. It is true in our daily life at GC we are trying to share our cultural background with those who are interested in knowing it, but a special occasion like this is just giving a voice to share in a festive atmosphere.”
Proceeds of this special occasion were donated to Invisible Children and to building costs for a Habitat for Humanity home for Eddie Mayorga, a Goshen employee. The coffeehouse was the last major fundraising opportunity for this ongoing effort.