DM partners with ISA

NICK FISHER, Executive Editor

Free food, prizes, dancing and other entertainment will be the product of a recent partnership between Dance Marathon and the International Student Association tonight. The “Night Out with DM/ ISA” will take place from 7-9 p.m. in the Maucker Union Ballroom. 

In addition to the culinary and performing aspects of the event, there will also be activities designed to encourage cultural education experiences. 

“We will dance and have fun, but at the same time have the cultural experience side and I think the two will complement each other nicely,” said Tyler Shuck, senior political science major and director of recruitment for DM.

Tonight’s menu consists of foodstuffs from Malaysia, India, Africa and many other nations and continents. The menu includes blueberry pierogi’s, chicken fritay, fried plantains and brigadeiros. Beverages include: mango lassi and lemon barley tea. 

Dance Marathon will be performing a few surprise routines in addition to culture-specific traditional dances, which will be performed on behalf of the ISA. 

With help from the NISG’s Diversity Matters Fund—a funding source that seeks to foster unique partnerships between UNI student organizations, according to NISG’s website—DM and the ISA collaborated with the goal of creating a social night for students to enjoy, while simultaneously educating them about different cultures. 

The educational component of the event draws upon the “world café” methodology, an activity in which small groups participate in a roundtable discussion regarding certain predetermined talking points. The talking points for tonight’s event will be centered on issues for minorities in the United States and other contemporary race-related issues. 

“A lot of these topics carry a stigma, and people don’t like talking about them. We would prefer that people be open about them as opposed to having the wrong idea about a certain topic and just carrying that idea with them their whole life,” said Fariha Afzal, senior interior design major and president of the ISA.

Afzal sees this event as excellent preparation to get the ISA geared up for the much larger Diversity Showcase event. The Diversity Showcase, which garnered a Program Distinction Award from the University last year, presents many of the diverse organizations on campus through a wide range of performances and informational tables. It will take place in April.  

Tonight’s “Night Out” comes at a crucial time for DM as well, as they are preparing for their big event, the Dance Marathon occurring March 7. 

“Everything is ramping up right now, as the event is [less than] two weeks away,” Shuck said, “Fundraising is being pushed; recruitment is being pushed; there are just a lot of different things going on.” 

For both parties, the relaxed social setting will be conducive for the development of relationships between domestic and international students. 

“Hopefully, for those who attend, it will break down that barrier,” Shuck said.

The dissolving of cultural barriers is one of the ISA’s central missions. Afzal wants students to know that all students are welcomed in the ISA—not just international students. 

“It’s important that [our members] aren’t just international students; we have a lot of American students as well,” Afzal said.