Organization offers culture insight, experiences

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Members of the International Student Organization walk in the Homecoming parade.

The International Student Organization has helped Murray State introduce different cultures and traditions to the city for more than 15 years and has built relationships with numerous countries.

Originally created to help international students transition easier to the University, the organization also promotes cultural diversity to the University and community.

The organization also provides a space where international students have the chance to teach American classmates about their culture.

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said the ISO is the University’s direct link to connecting with its international students.

“It’s an important piece of the governing structure of students,” Robertson said.

He said ISO’s strong presence on campus is a result of helping the international communities acclimate to Murray State.

“They are one of the big four groups that we look to,” Robertson said. “It’s important that we look to ISO as one of the main ways to get a sense of the needs for our international students. What are issues and concerns that we need to address? How do we help the international students transition to the University?”

Currently, ISO serves 800 international students, including more than 20 student representatives from different countries.

ISO has been in charge of numerous traditions such as the International Bazaar, International Night at Winslow Dining Hall and various crafts and dance nights.

Ewa Wantulok, president of ISO, said the organization was created with two distinct goals.

“ISO gives students opportunities to stay involved in campus life and to share their cultural background,” Wantulok said.

She said the relationship between ISO and the University goes beyond just a teaching experience. She said ISO teaches the University and students about diversity. ISO helps students explore the world in one place.

Wantulok said ISO helps students be open-minded and ready to discover other cultures. ISO aims for students to understand diversity, rather than judge different cultures.

ISO also wishes to encourage study abroad options by giving students first-hand experiences with students from possible locations.

Wantulok said another reason ISO holds its relationship with the University so closely is to broaden the world to local students.

Said Wantulok: “I believe international students encourage American students to explore and experience the world by leaving comfort zones and being open for new adventures and ready to accept what the world has to offer.”

 Story by Samantha Villanueva, Staff writer.