Origami night connects students, cultures

Lori Allen/The News Junior Britney Boston practices origami skills at origami night last week.

In attendance at the International Cultures and Languages Association Origami Night on Spet. 17 were more than 40 students ready take on the art that is origami.

ICALA is an organization that works toward informing students and community members about international languages and cultures to build awareness and cultural sensitivity on Murray State’s campus.

ICALA’s faculty adviser, Susan Drake, led an evening class of students from varied cultural backgrounds on how to create origami ranging from beginner to intermediate levels

The word origami comes from the Japanese words “ori” which means “to fold” and “gami” which means paper. Origami was originally reserved for religious and formal ceremonies during its early days due to the price of paper.

During the Edo period, 1603-1868, origami became a recreational past time of many residents of eastern cultures.

In today’s cultures, origami can be a recreational activity to many, an art to some and a practice of mathematical theory to others.

Drake’s origami class began with a brief history and followed with insightful instruction on the basics of origami.

Many professors from the language department were in attendance, and treats were provided so the students could stay focused during the challenging two-hour origami session.

Origami night started more than two years ago with mainly Japanese students. Since then, because of the positive feedback from the original origami night, it has been held every fall semester.

“It has always been a very popular activity,” Drake said. “Obviously, attendance depends on the student’s schedule, but we have held origami night in two separate classrooms because the amount of students simply won’t fit in one classroom.”

Origami night is not only about learning origami; ICALA has a goal they intend to reach through the group’s various events.

“Our goal is not only learning about other cultures, but also providing opportunities for American students and international students to come together in an environment where they can get to know each other and practice that diversity together,” Drake said. “That way they are not just learning about another culture in a classroom, but experiencing working with people of other cultures.”

ICALA was originally known as Foreign Language Club.

Due to ICALA’s history, many of their activities are related to the languages that are currently taught on campus such as Japanese, French, Spanish, Chinese and German. This gives students who are currently learning a foreign language to experience the culture of another country on campus without the restrictions of the classroom environment.

Last spring, ICALA was successful in hosting Chinese New Year at Winslow Dining Hall.

Students involved in ICALA experienced making Chinese delicacies in preparation for the Origami event.

During the event, students had a Winslow dining experience complete with genuine Chinese decoration, food and entertainment. ICALA hopes to continue improving its events.

“Our big plan for the fall is our fundraiser at homecoming where we will celebrate Oktoberfest, a festival in Germany,” Drake said. “We will sell German food such as bratwurst at Homecoming and have a get-together for the students afterwards where the students can relax, talk and enjoy the food.”


Story by Alex McLaughlin, Contributing Writer