Saturday, October 25, 2014

Students visit 2013 World Wide Welcome

OISS’ event Friday introduced international students to different clubs and positions within Liberty

heritage — Niboneras is a band of three brothers.  Photo credit: Gabriella Fuller

Heritage — Niboneras is a band of three brothers. Photo credit: Gabriella Fuller

The Office of International Student Services (OISS) kicked off its semester of events amid a colorful array of flags from around the world with the 2013 World Wide Welcome Aug. 30.

Many international clubs were represented at the event, as well as Liberty University departments, such as the School of Business and the School of Communication and Creative Arts.

“I thought we needed to bring new students and mix them up with the current students,” Dr. William Wegert, dean of international student programs, said. “That’s what this is all about.”

According to Wegert, the founder of the event, World Wide Welcome was created 11 years ago and offers live music, games and information for students.

“This is an event for different department heads … and groups and to show our international students what we have to offer so that they know they can be a part of it,” Carrie Brown, international admissions specialist, said.

Students enjoyed Niboneras, a group of three brothers from the Republic of Congo, who performed live on the steps of DeMoss Hall, as well as other activities such as sidewalk chalk art, hair braiding, face painting, cornhole games and Henna tattoos.

According to Brown, there are more than 900 international students on Liberty’s campus representing more than 70 different countries.

“We’re always trying to get more (international students),” Brown said. “We would love it if we had 300 countries represented. We’re always trying to grow … and the International Student Center is one of the departments that fosters the different cultures here at Liberty.”

According to Nkechi Ilo, president of the Association of Students of African Descent (ASAD), the event gave students a chance to connect before the stress of the semester caused students to become too busy.

Some of the clubs represented at the event were ASAD, Korean Fellowship Group, Nations United, Spanish Club and Stand with Israel.

“I feel like this is a very good gathering, like an awesome thing … to bring international students together,” Ilo said.

henna — Nissy Bandari gives students temporary tattoos. Photo credit: Gabriella Fuller

Henna — Nissy Bandari gives students temporary tattoos. Photo credit: Gabriella Fuller

According to Ilo, ASAD had 14 new members join their club during the event.

“It’s not you just getting a whole bunch of information, but it’s like you’re actually building a relationship,” junior Brandyce Savoy said.

During the World Wide Welcome event, students also competed for various prizes offered by OISS. Groups of three students were invited to step up to a microphone to recite “hello” in as many different languages as they could. Students were also invited to announce how many countries they have visited and sing their countries’ national anthems.

Students also enjoyed food provided by Sodexo.

“(The event) provides an open environment, and the fact that you have all the different races and ethnic backgrounds together is kind of like there’s no pressure on it,” Savoy said. “It’s just open and homey.”

Some students dressed in their country’s traditional attire, smiling and taking pictures with other students. The chalk art also drew attention, as students filled the sidewalk with drawings of their home country’s flag.

According to Brown, there are several events offered by the International Student Center this semester, including trips to Washington, D.C. and Busch Gardens, a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner and several open houses to celebrate different countries.

For more information on upcoming trips or events offered by the International Student Center, email intlstucenter@liberty.edu.

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