International banquet celebrates CU’s cultures

Photo by Jacob Jardel

Photo by Jacob Jardel

Jacob Jardel
Assistant Managing Editor
@JJardel_Writing

The Cameron community celebrated cultural diversity during its 7th Annual International Student Scholarship Banquet at 6 p.m. on Oct. 3 in the McCasland Ballroom.

Cameron University International Club hosted the event, which sought to bring the world to the university. It began seven years ago under the direction of former International Student Admissions Coordinator Marcella Gustafson.

Clara Lundgren took the helm after Gustafson retired in June. Coming into the event, Lundgren said she was nervous but looking forward to her first banquet.

“We put a lot of work into it,” she said. “I’m excited. Lots of good donations from community members, and students have been donating a lot.”

The event featured a mix of multicultural entertainment, cuisine and decor along with a silent auction of various international items. The proceeds from the silent auction went to the international student scholarship fund.

Lundgren said fundraisers such as this one are vital to helping international students come to and stay at Cameron.

“International students are not U.S. citizens, so they cannot apply for financial aid,” Lundgren said. “So there are not a lot of scholarships available for them. This is a great event, and we’re excited that we’re continuing it this year.”

More importantly to her, the event is about bringing a slice of various cultures around the world to the Cameron University community.

“It’s really just about entertainment, learning about different cultures and seeing that Lawton is pretty small, but we have a lot of international people in our community,” Lundgren said. “We just really want to share that. It’s a perk that we can raise money to help them.”

While the scholarships are a perk for the international students, according to Lundgren, domestic students had the potential to leave with more than just a positive experience.

“I think diversity is a really important aspect of going to college,” Lundgren said. “Just growing up, it’s good to be diverse and to have people who have different viewpoints than you and bring cultural diversity to domestic students’ lives.”

Junior Biology major Agnes Ajose, president of the International Club, said that these events also have a benefit for international students.

“Nights like this are an indication that international students are accepted and wanted in the Lawton community,” Ajose said. “Seeing lots of people donating and paying for this event makes us feel like people care about the well-being of international students.”

According to Ajose, the Lawton community responded positively to the event.

“I think the event went great and the audience loved it,” she said.

The event began with an introduction from junior Business Administration major Waheed Gbadamosi, the emcee of the event, and a welcome from Cameron President Dr. John McArthur.

After Gbadamosi and McArthur’s opening remarks, the audience partook in a variety of international foods – from Caribbean jerk chicken and beef lo mein to jollof rice and baklava. The audience had a literal buffet of multicultural cuisine from which to choose.

As the audience finished their meals, guest speaker Miracle Akinwale, the first president of the Nigerian Student Association, addressed the crowd. He spoke about the importance of college education and encouraged the audience to strive for their success.

An introduction of the 2014-2015 International Club Executive Board followed Akinwale’s speech, followed by the presentation of the year’s International Club Scholarship recipients.

The presentation of scholarships was followed by the evening’s assortment of international entertainment. From traditional Nepali and Hawaiian dances to vocal performances from various international students, the crowd had many opportunities to immerse themselves in various cultures.

Ajose said this cultural immersion could teach both domestic and international students a variety of lessons.

“I hope the banquet taught domestic students to learn about and appreciate the diversity of people at Cameron University,” Ajose said. “To my fellow international students, I hope the banquet taught us that international students are part of the society, judging by the outcome of people at the event.”

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