Around the world in 5 nights: COISO celebrates diversity at UM

Students from COISO created the "Beyond the Borders" mural for International Week that was on display at the UC Patio April 1. Photo credit: Hunter Crenian
Students from COISO created the "Beyond the Borders" mural for International Week that was on display at the UC Patio April 1. Photo credit: Hunter Crenian

Students spent five nights celebrating cultures from around the world during the University of Miami’s annual International Week, hosted by the Council of International Students and Organizations.

The president of COISO, Nimesh Nagaruru, said the goal of this week was to “educate and show appreciation of backgrounds and understand differences around us.” Nagaruru worked tirelessly to ensure that the five nights were executed perfectly to meet his vision of this year’s I-Week.

Each night celebrated a different region of the world through a full production of decorations, tents, food and performances. Students traveled around the world with COISO to Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia, learning about the beauty in different cultures but also the unity that ties all humans together.

The planning was extensive, but it required delegation, Nagaruru said. Each night was spearheaded by two to three individuals who worked as a team of chairs to showcase the culture of a certain region, a task that entailed research, communication and organization.

Ishaan Shah was the chair of Middle East and Europe night, which hosted activities such as calligraphy, tea tasting and holiday celebrations. There was also authentic food from the region that was a reflection of the food mentioned in a performed skit.

“The purpose of our night was to let everyone learn more about our world and what makes it special,” said Shah.

Members of different organizations were excited to be able to present their cultures and teach the community diverse subjects they might not otherwise learn. Julia Meguro, a sophomore on the executive board of the Asian American Students Association, said that she enjoyed sharing her own club’s culture but also exploring others.

COISO's I-Week featured a celebration of African cultures and traditions April 2. Photo credit: Natalia Rovira

“It’s so exciting for me to be able to share my culture and educate people on Asian diversity, but also, I loved going through the tent activities for other regions this week,” Meguro said. “I really learned a lot about the diversity of UM.”

Asia night took place Friday, April 5 and hosted a myriad of tent activities such as “Asia Pong” and “Soda in a Bag.”

While centered around educating and sharing culture, the week also brought a piece of home to the wide range of UM’s international students. According to the university, every year, around 3,600 international students and scholars representing over 120 different countries come to UM to study, teach or do research.

Milena Pak, a freshman international student and member of COISO, said this week is important to her as an international student.

“I value diversity. I like spreading diversity. For me, it’s a learning experience, and for other people, it’s contributing to their learning as well,” she said.

Individuals and groups relevant to each night performed dances, skits and songs. SwaggeRaas, UM’s competitive garba-raas dance team, performed on opening night and Asia night for the second year in a row.

“Last year at I-Week, we performed for Asia night, and we had an amazing time,” said Bhargavi Pochi, a sophomore and captain of SwaggeRaas. “We love performing for I-Week because it gives us a chance to showcase our culture and a really unique type of dance. This year, we performed again with our new competition routine and were super excited to end our season with a home stage performance.”

I-Week is one of COISO’s biggest events, attracting people to perform and attend every year. Emily Eachus, a sophomore, attended last year’s I-Week and called it an “amazing experience.” This year she said she expected to see different dances and vibrant colors along with ties between the cultures, all of which she experienced throughout the five nights.