International Week celebrates diversity

One student organization tries to spread a message to the university community through a week of events: When love and cultural diversity join forces, anything is possible.
For the first week of April 2010, the Council of International Students and Organizations (COISO) took over the UC Patio with its annual event, International Week.
COISO is the mother organization to 20 smaller international student groups on campus.
This year the event was extended over five nights instead of its usual four to include Asia Night, Caribbean/Pacific Islander night, Africa/Middle Eastern night, Latin night and a new event, Unity night, to bring all of the cultures together.
The theme, “For the Love of COISO,” was based on the VH1 reality love television series.
“We wanted the last night to culminate with the theme of people from all different backgrounds coming together for the common love of COISO,” said Valerie Valero, the organization’s secretary and I-Week chair.
The week kicked off with a Chinese dragon parade from the Hecht-Stanford Bridge to the UC. Members then performed a skit centering on a person searching for love in Asia.
Caribbean/Pacific Islander Night featured dances and a skit in which a character went island hopping in order to find a suitor.
Rising senior Lisa Davis, treasurer of the Organization for Jamaican Unity (OJU) and COISO cabinet member, was in the show and helped with operations of the week’s other events.
“I love the idea that a bunch of students can put together such an extravaganza in spite of all the obstacles involved,” she said. “Last year there were dancers, fire breathers, stilt walkers- it was epic. I am looking forward to doing it again.”
Different cultures are matched up each year to encourage different groups to work together.
“The goal is to spread awareness about the cultural diversity on UM’s campus,” Valero said.
The African/Middle Eastern Night show told the story of love between people of two different backgrounds. The show involved belly dancing and professional performers from the Miami area in addition to student performers.
Latin Night included Flamenco and Tango dancing as well as a salute from the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO).
And as a bonus for many students, plenty of free international food was given out each night.
“If nothing else attracts students, this could be a whole week away from Charties,” Valero said.
Nina Ruggiero may be contacted at