This Sunday, October 13, at 2 p.m., International House will be hosting the 66th annual United Nations Day Tea. The United Nations established U.N. Day to commemorate the establishment of the U.N. in 1947.
Over the years, the U.N. Day Tea evolved from a formal tea with a “stodgy group of the old guard… who would come dressed quite formally and the students would greet them quite formally and they would just have tea and crumpets,” says Dr. John Ketterer, the Director of the International House, to something that better represents them today.
In 2000, the student performances were added and then in 2002 it was taken outside on the front lawn of the International House because of how popular it became.
Dr. Ketterer says that “when we first started doing the student performances, a student would do something from their country. And we got kind of bored with that because that wasn’t really who we are.”
Now, international students from different countries collaborate on something from one specific country and present that, whether it is a dance or a song or even a poem.
The Tea has always been a way to present the IH community to the students, alumni, and faculty of JSU, and also the community as a whole.
More than 200 people attend every year and this year there will be 12 students from Anahuac University in Mexico City.
Apparently, I have been pleasantly ignorant about the differences between the International House and the International Student Organization and it came back to bite me when I tried to interview the president of the ISO about the United Nations Day Tea that IH is hosting.
Maya-Nora Saaid, the president of the ISO this semester, quickly corrected my views though and even said that most people thought that way. “It’s important that people know there’s a difference.”
She went on to tell me that it was not the ISO that was sponsoring the U.N. Day Tea, but IH.
The ISO is responsible for the parade of flags, which will represent all of the internationals at Jacksonville State University, that will be in the homecoming parade this Saturday.
The International Student Organization represents all of the international students on campus and in the community that are far from home.
There are over 250 students on campus from foreign countries, not to mention those who are attending the English Language Institute (ELI) that the eight elected officers of ISO help to represent.
Thus the reasoning behind the ISO working on having the flags of the countries students and community members are here representing.
The ISO are for “those who feel homesick,” says Maya. It’s a refuge for those far from home and who feel like they are alone in the community. They can bond with other international students through the ISO.
The International House though, is a more select group of 20 international students and 20 North American students who have applied and been approved to live in the International House and was conceived as a cultural and linguistic exchange project.
IH is basically a more exclusive dorm with emphasis put on actually getting to know each culture that is represented by the internationals that are living there.
“The slogan for the International House is ‘know one another, and you will love one another’” says Maya. “That’s what the house stands for. Everybody is the same, everybody is equal.”
The varaity of countries represented by those at IH attest to that fact. Those countries are Turkmenistan, Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Korea, Morocco, Austria, Brazil, Kenya, Guatemala, Jordan, Germany, Ecuador, Vietnam, Colombia, Palestine, The Netherlands, Senegal.
The U.S. students at IH are from Alabama, Maryland, Maine, and Georgia.
The U.N. Day Tea will have food and refreshments for all who attend.
IH will be hosting their annual Halloween party this year on October 24th beginning at 7 p.m.