By: IZZA JATALA
There are about 300 international students from over 60 different countries that study at IU South Bend.
For these students who are miles away from home, it can take some time to adjust when being introduced to a new cultural environment.
The International Student Organization (ISO) offers students a chance to learn about other cultures and share insights about their own experiences.
“All of us have unique backgrounds and different dreams,” said Nyaradzo Mantiziba, president of ISO. “While we are here we want to enrich each other’s lives and help each other understand why we are the way we are.”
ISO meets weekly to plan events and activities and talk about everything from their lives in the U.S. to international issues. Mantiziba said she welcomes hearing different perspectives because it leads to greater understanding.
“This is about students coming together. Americans, Africans, Europeans, Asians, all coming together to share our culture and understanding of the world.”
Mantiziba is originally from Zimbabwe. She came to South Bend to join her older sister at IUSB in 2008. She’s studying psychology and will graduate this May.
“I think one of the hardest parts at first was being lonely on campus. I was just doing my school work and then going back home. I think I was still dealing with the shock of it all,” Mantiziba said.
She said she hasn’t been back home since she moved here, but her family comes to visit often. Each time they do she says she misses home a little more.
“I’m not really home sick, I’m more like people sick. I miss being around my culture sometimes even though I’ve gained a new appreciation for diversity,” she said.
Mantiziba said she eventually became more active on campus and joined the ISO about a year-and-a-half ago. She said she really values the connections she’s made and her International Student Organization: A club for those far from home responsibilities as club president. “Some of the best moments I’ve had here is simply making new friends,” she said.
During the ISO meeting held last Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the SAC club room 206, Mantiziba and about 12 of the 20 core members of the club talked about their upcoming events.
This semester they will be apart of events like Trivia Night with Titan Productions, which took place earlier in mid-February Later in March Mantiziba said they plan to have a bowling night open to all students.
They’re also going to have an International Flag Hunt and students who find the flags can turn them in to the International Student Services office to claim a prize. Later in the spring, they’ll have one of their biggest events, the community-recognized International Food Festival taking place 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 5.
“We believe that if you want to know about a culture, ask for their food. We want to invite the IUSB community and the South Bend community for fun day of learning about different cultures through food, fashion and entertainment.”
Mantiziba is still looking for people to participate in the festival for both food and entertainment. The application deadline to participate is March 1. Interested students can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other members of ISO shared insights about their experience coming to IUSB and how they feel about ISO during the meeting.
“Taking in the new experiences was overwhelming at first, but then you get to meet so many interesting people. You realize that we are not so different after all in some ways.
Everyone goes to school, people want to work, people have that need or want to become better in their lives,” said Ngaatendwe Mantiziba, older sister to Nyaradzo Mantiziba and secretary of ISO. She’s pursuing her master’s in accounting.
“I’ve learned a lot about other cultures, other ways of thinking,” said Amoin Kouame. She’s from Ivory Coast and pursuing her master’s in accounting.
“ISO for me is like all the countries coming together, a place to talk about different experiences, do activities and build bonds with each other.”
After the ISO members talked about upcoming events and shared some of their experiences at IUSB, Mantiziba read aloud the discussion topic of the day, which gives the club a chance to have a conversation about international issues. This week’s topic was on the conservation of ecosystems.
Mantiziba said the discussions give them chance to voice their perspectives, all of which are unique to their backgrounds. She said that’s what’s ISO is about, “bringing those voices together.”
“We want to bring everyone to together to realize we are a global community. If we can try to relate to one another now it will be a benefit to our future,” she said.
Learn more about ISO and their activities through their official Facebook page.