A cultural center for international students at Oregon State University is getting a new home, which will be celebrated this weekend at an event filled with music and food.
The International Resource Center opened its doors on the west side of the Memorial Union lounge in 2009, with support from student affairs and international program staff. Operated primarily by the International Students of Oregon State University (ISOSU), the center has become a focal point for a number of internationally-based cultural activities and events on campus.
Last week the center moved into its new home in the Student Experience Center, a relocation that creates more opportunities for networking, programming and exposure, student organizers say.
A grand opening for the new center will be held this Saturday, Feb. 21, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event will feature food from around the globe and the music of DeCajon, a Seattle based Afro-Peruvian music and dance ensemble.
ISOSU will also host the 2015 Winter Showcase, featuring a performance from Monica Rojas (past ISOSU president) and DeCajon, which will be followed by OSU students showcasing their talents. It takes place Feb. 21, 7 p.m., in the MU Ballroom. Tickets are $5 for non OSU students and available at the door.
In its infancy, the International Resource Center offered a coffee hour every two weeks, ISOSU co-director Rone Nop said, and then evolved to include poetry nights, game events and cultural heritage nights, as well as programming around religion and spirituality.
“Eventually, we decided to narrow our palate, so that we weren’t diluting the programming,” Nop said.
As they prepare to celebrate their new space, the center staff has focused programming on a smaller series of offerings. The coffee hours and cultural heritage nights will continue due to their popularity (co-director Estefania Arellana said they’re always sold-out events). Additionally, there is a series called “The Dangers of a Single Perspective” that examines a hot topic issue from a variety of multi-cultural perspectives.
A cultural exposition similar to a talent show helps students from around the world showcase pieces from their own culture, including song, dance and story-telling.
“We’re at capacity for all these events,” said Robin Ryan, associate director of Student Leadership & Involvement. “Now we’ll be able to serve more students in the new space, and move from more random events to programming with very intentional learning outcomes.”
The new space will provide opportunities for other student groups with similar multicultural perspectives to present programming, and will increase the opportunities for student engagement with open workshops and other events.
In addition to the larger space, the center will also have an added draw – a huge collection of international dolls donated by the McHenry Family. The collection includes 247 dolls gathered from around the world, which will be on display in a large case at the entrance to the new center.