Prachi Gohil, Roving Editor
“The motive of the international club at Saint Martin’s University is to unite domestic and international students to connect as much as possible,” said International Club President Chauncey Holk.
Nolk added, “The first semester [for international students] is especially difficult when you do not speak the language, and in a small period, it is hard to get close friends from the country you are at. This made me understand how much the international students feel when they come to America. The club acts like a spot where everyone can come together, be involved, get out and attend other events on campus.”
The International Club is open to all students at Saint Martin’s, and club members can often be found organizing events for international students; ensuring they get to experience the American life, and leave the country with both memories and friends.
“Any student on campus can be a part of the club because the goal is to get the American students and the international students to get together, not just the international students. One can either talk to me or anyone who is a part of the club, get themselves on the email list to be a part of the club. We have various events all semester that we conduct, watch movies or cook together, attend school events together. One of the big events that we are conducting is to celebrate the Lunar New Year Festival together,” said Holk.
The Lunar New Year Festival is a Chinese tradition and is celebrated to honor the Chinese and other Southeast Asian students on campus. The event was open to students and community members around the Lacey-Olympia area, and guests were served traditional Chinese food.
The Norman Worthington Center was adorned with Lunar New Year decorations, and many students were seen wearing traditional Chinese clothing. Chiachi, also known as Ruby, is an exchange student from Taiwan, and co-hosted the New Year celebration with Holk.
Since many international students cannot speak English fluently, Chiachi’s duty was to translate the event from English to Chinese. The goal of the event was to provide the international students with a sense of comfort and home.
President of Saint Martin’s University, Roy Heynderickx, Ph.D., greeted the crowd and extended a warm welcome to the Chinese students and other members of the international community. The President’s welcome was followed by some words from Roger Douglas, Ph.D., Associate Dean of International Programs, who wished the crowd a Happy New Year, and congratulated the International Club on all their hard work.
Various events and performances were a part of the celebration. One set of performers who garnered a lot of attention was a father-daughter duo playing the guitar and a mandolin.
The event also included Chinese students who shared their experiences celebrating the Lunar Festival back home.
Garry, an exchange student from China said “In China, the Lunar New Year is also called ‘chunjie,’ or the Spring Festival. The celebrations of this day includes family dinner and fireworks. It is called Spring festival because in China is an agricultural society. The Festival is a ceremonial day to pray to Gods for a good planting and harvest season. As a student, you can get at least seven days of holiday during the festival, if you are working, you might get more.”
Last semester, the International Club escorted a group of international students to Boomshaka, now called Defy, in Olympia, as one of their group bonding activities. This semester, they are planning an annual camping trip to Black Lake Bible Camp in March. If any student, international or domestic, is wishing to make friends from around the world, they should keep an eye out for emails from the International Club advertising their events.