ISU Shows Talent Across The Borders

Photo by Maxwell Reide.
Photo by Maxwell Reide.
Photo by Maxwell Reide.

Audience members got down with different cultures during the International Student Union’s (ISU) second annual talent show on Tuesday, April 8 in the Student Union MPR.

The talent show featured 16 participants originating from countries including Ecuador, Turkey and the Czech Republic who took the stage with song, dance and martial arts.

The talent show’s hosts, Masooma Homa, a second-year international relations major from Afghanistan and Melissa Laudenbach, a second-year French and Spanish double-major from the United States, started the show by giving audience members an opportunity to cheer for their country and say hello in their native language. They incorporated popular culture into their emceeing performance by starting an audience-wide selfie to the tune of The Chainsmokers’ hit “#Selfie.”

The night was kicked off by fourth-year international relations major and President of ISU, Jay Yu, who hails from South Korea. He both rapped and sang a cover of a Korean song called “Guilty,” originally sung by Kara Seungyeon. The song is about a man who is sick of fighting with his girlfriend and is ready to break up with her.

Another act featured a performance from first-year graphic design major and Brazilian-native Sofia Coeli, who sang a cover of a Portugese song called “Por Enquanto,” originally sung by Cassia Eller. The song touches upon different kinds of relationships. Before singing, Coeli explained that the song’s significance to her, and was accompanied by a friend on the guitar.

Coeli said while the song’s message is commonly interpreted as romantic, it reminds her of her friendships and having to say goodbye to everyone.

Coeli also extended her abilities through dance during a performance by Brazil Without Borders, a new club on campus that started last semester. Brazil Without Borders’ goal is to express their culture to all students through history, food and dances by participating in international events.

The talent show’s last act featured fourth-year finance major Efraym Refat, from Egypt, who sang an Arabic song called “Ahu Da Eli Sar,” originally sung by Mohamed Al Maghraby. Refat said his inspiration to sing this song stemmed from political conflicts occurring in Egypt.

“[This song] calls for the people to unite together and motivates the people and the country,” Refat said. “The country needs the people right now because we need to do a lot of effort to build the country again after this revolution.”

Being that the talent show is only on its second semester and will continue to be a semesterly event, ISU’s E-Board made several changes since the first time the spotlight was on them.

“I talked to the former president, and I got advice from her. She said last time it was in a hurry, so they didn’t have enough time to organize,” Yu said. “So this time when I was elected president, we held E-board meetings and picked the date first.”

ISU decided to work as a team to promote this semester’s event by handing each E-board member with a task and sharing their ideas. According to Ediliana Estrella, a second-year international relations major and ISU’s programmer, ISU’s publicity for the event started two weeks prior, and the club’s two advisers, International Student Advisor in the Center for International Programs, Cindy Cullen and Lecturer James Phillips in the Department of English as a Second Language, helped distribute flyers throughout their respective departments to promote the event.

According to Estrella, the only challenge ISU faced in getting the talent show on its feet involved getting the performers on their feet themselves. Estrella said when she first joined ISU, she made sure to make international members feel comfortable, and she said it was important to work with all performers to get them outside their comfort zone.

“My main goal for the talent show was to show our audience the talents that the world has to offer outside the borders of the United States,” Estrella said. “These students come to New Paltz every semester, and bring with them their talents which they’ve acquired from back in their home country.”