The International Student Council, ISC, celebrated International Women’s Day by highlighting women and European culture March 4 at Centre Stage.
The keynote speaker for the night, Leah Gunderson, an accounting professor, discussed the role of women in today’s society. As a mother and a career woman, Gunderson told the crowd that everyone is special regardless of being a mother, a student or working full-time.
Students from Italy, France, Russia, Ukraine and Madagascar were invited to share their thoughts about the day and how they celebrate in their home countries.
“It’s interesting how other people celebrate the holiday, because every country is different. In my country [Armenia] it is a holiday and people treat us good,” said Tamara Harutyunova, a finance major and president of ISC. “It is another amazing holiday and it is cool to learn new things from different cultures,” she said.
Cakes, tea and other treats were served at the European tea party-themed event. Each woman who attended was given a red rose.
Harutyunova first organized the event as a celebration for European culture. After finding out that many of the international students from European countries honor International Women’s Day, Harutyunova knew she had found the theme of the celebration.
“Back home it’s a big holiday. Women get flowers and in some countries you get paid double that day. Other countries get the day off work. It is a big deal and women get treated well on that day,” said Harutyunova.
According to the United Nations official website, International Women’s Day was first celebrated in New York City in 1909, to honor the 1908 garment workers strike where 15,000 women protested against working conditions and advocated for economic and political rights. Over the next 100 years, the holiday spread all over the world. It has changed from a holiday of protesting and rallies, to a holiday of praise and recognition.
Every semester the ISC organizes three to four events that highlight a specific culture. Past events have included an African Culture Night and a Chinese New Year celebration.
“I like to go to these events because of free cultural food, fun activities and I get to learn new things about other cultures,” said Rachel Falls, a sophomore elementary education major.
The purpose of these events is to help international students feel welcome on campus and give other students a chance to educate themselves.
“When you come here and you don’t speak [English], it’s really hard. So we have region activities where students get together once a month and have a little fun, so they have something to do besides going to school,” said Harutyunova. “It can be stressful when you come to a new country and so many of us are homesick when we come here. That’s why we throw these events, to make people feel welcome.”