ISO Celebrates UN Day With Large Turnout

On Monday, October 24, 2016, the Bluefield State International Student Organization (ISO) hosted its first annual celebration of United Nations Day in the Othello Harris-Jefferson Student Center marking the 71st anniversary since the 1945 enactment of the UN Charter which acts as a fundamental basis for the law of nations in order to better manage international conflicts and avoid the scourge and destruction of war.

A diverse assemblage gathered on the Bluefield campus from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to join in the various country foods, music, dances, information distribution, PowerPoint Presentations, etc. prepared by students, faculty, staff, administrators, and community members representing over 17 countries in the world. The free-of-charge event was initially conceived by Office of International Initiatives Coordinator Professor Sudhakar Jamkhandi who some years earlier had been appointed by then-Governor Joe Manchin to head up a UN Day Celebration for the state of West Virginia. Dr. Jamkhandi explained that we did not have adequate support back then to pull off this kind of event, but presently with leadership and initiative from multiple people, our community had come together in unity and celebration.

A number of faculty brought their classes to partake in the activities and enjoy the music, dance, and food. Nursing faculty Dr. Bernie Dragich, Sandra Wynn, and Julie Orr, in fact, utilized the event as an opportunity for nursing students to each interview two international visitors about the health care systems in their countries as a comparative exercise for students.

The Director for International Programs from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, Dr. Clark Egnor, was present as was Ms. Felicia Barnett from the Knowledge Exchange Institute. Also in attendance was former Bluefield City Manager Mr. Jim Ferguson representing Rotary Club International, Ms. Iwona Broyles from Monroe County who represented the country of Poland, Ms. Kristin Pujari of Bluefield who represented the country of India, as well as Bluefield Daily Telegraph (BDT) reporter Mr. Charles Boothe.

On campus, Ms. Joan Buchanan from the Office of Student Life and Activities assisted the ISO in various ways in preparing for the event as did Ms. Jackie Lambert, Manager of the Millennium Café on campus. Assistance was also provided by numerous campus staff, faculty, and administrators who gave of their time and expertise in making this a signatory event including SGA President Ayla Mathias and SGA Secretary Erika Davis, Ms. Diana Gibson from the BSC Maintenance Department, Mr. Jim Nelson and Ms. Karen Gordon from Office of Media Relations, Dr. Guy Sims who is Assistant to the President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion as well as Title IX and Title III Coordinator, BSC President Marsha Krotseng, Professor Tesfaye Belay and his wife Genet who represented the country of Ethiopia, Dr. Dharshana Arachchi and his wife Shanika from Sri Lanka, Dr. Adem Ozyavas who represented the country of Turkey, Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Dr. Mariya Kharina who represented the country of Russia, and longtime member of the BSC Board of Governors Mr. Norris Kantor Esq and his wife Doris Sue Kantor.

ISO student officers, including President Jelena Jevtić (from Serbia), Vice President Shonté Cargill (from The Bahamas), Treasurer Marta Briales (from Spain), and Secretary Thais Nogueira Nunes (from Brazil) contributed in a multitude of ways to the day’s arrangement, including flyer and food preparation, costume and music provisions, overall organization and participation of students in the celebration. As well, an energetic and fascinating dance was performed by Pakistani ISO member Monis Ali Said who wore a colorful purple kameez which is a traditional outfit of his country, and this was followed by a group of dancers from The Bahamas who performed a national dance while they displayed a traditional dance costume.

Countries represented in this first BSC UN Day Celebration included: The Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, India, Jamaica, Nepal, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Turkey, United States, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.

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