Part of Kean University's mission to provide a world-class education includes housing organizations that promote the diversity of its student body. No organization on campus epitomizes that mission more than the International Student Association (ISA).
ISA welcomes anyone who is interested in learning more about the diversity represented each day on campus, with 28 current members and an executive board dedicated to educating students on cultural awareness. One of those executive board members is Diane Loegel, junior psychology major and ISA president.
"Kean [University] is one of the most diverse universities, so having a club like ISA is essential to represent that diversity," said Loegel. "Every member is involved in our events during the semester, which means that we all work together closely, so you are guaranteed to make friends and learn from each other!"
Loegel credits former ISA member Alanderson "Allan" Meira with bringing the organization back to life during the 2014-2015 academic year. Due to a renewed enthusiasm, ISA became a funded group in the fall of 2016 and now has a budget to fund organized events and meetings. The biggest event ISA has hosted was the International Dinner held in Downs Hall during the fall 2016 semester.
"We just became a funded group that semester and were finally able to do something big. So we had a dinner with foods from different countries and performances from some of the Wenzhou [Kean University] students and Kean [USA] students, which [meant] that we had a very culturally diverse evening with lots of music and dancing," Loegel shared.
The International Dinner resulted in more students wanting to join ISA. According to Loegel, approximately 100 to 120 people attended the dinner.
With the resounding success of the International Dinner, ISA is in the midst of planning future events to further promote the organization.
"Before [the International Dinner], we have had a few workshops, bake sales, some outings such as picnics in Central Park, ice-skating and other outings to the city," said Loegel. "There was also a Carnival in Rio organized by the former president of the club, Allan Meira. This semester we have another Carnival planned, which is going to represent the festivities in South America."
As is customary with ISA events, food, performances, music and plenty of surprises will be part of the next Carnival event, which will be held on Thursday, March 23, 2017, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The International Carnival will take place in the Center for Academic Success (CAS) lobby.
The organization is also planning to host an International Awareness Day in April, which will showcase various cultures, foods and languages. Once arrangements for this event are finalized, ISA will post the date and location on its Cougar Link page.
In addition to promoting student engagement, ISA also wants to educate the Kean community on the importance of being accepting of each other and different cultures.
"Our organization brings people from anywhere in the world together to have a cultural exchange...With everything going on in the world right now, it is essential to be strong together and be open-minded."
Loegel emphasizes the laid-back nature of ISA meetings as a good opportunity to meet and get to know new people.
"An interested student can contact anyone from the e-board. Our contact info is on Cougar Link, and of course every member of our organization is free to promote ISA at any time and bring friends to the meetings!"
Any member of the Kean community, international or non-international student, is welcome to join ISA and continue Kean University's world class culture. Group meetings are held biweekly on Thursdays in CAS room 112 from 3:30 p.m. to 4:10 p.m., with the next meeting being held on Thursday, March 2, 2017.
So come out to a meeting, build new relationships and enjoy some good food while learning about the different flavors of the world.