By Shannon Sigafoos

The International Students Association (ISA) is doing its part to keep the Lafayette community connected—with caffeine, a little bit of COVID commiserating, cuisine, and culture. 

The organization just wrapped up its weeklong “ISA E-Xtravaganza,” which is normally an on-campus celebration of the College’s international student population and the beauty and color of the community. The festivities often include the involvement of faculty and staff, and this year everyone was determined to make the annual event—like everything else happening during the coronavirus pandemic—continue virtually. 

ISA extravaganza poster image

“We had already put the work in to making these events happen. About nine of us on the board were all pulling our weight in different directions,” says ISA president Saeed Malami ’20. “We all kept in contact with different people. We wanted to keep the lectures we had planned with faculty, but we also had to get people to sign up for events. It was a lot of work on everyone’s part, but it was nice to see.” 

The group hosted each event on its YouTube channel and has since combined all of the videos into one playlist so that anyone who wasn’t able to participate live can still take part. 

The events included “Coffee: Making the Perfect Cup” with Joseph Woo, assistant professor of chemical and molecular engineering; a catch-up with ISA students around the world as they shared their individual quarantining experiences; “COVID-19 Faculty Voices” with Gladstone Hutchinson, associate professor of economics, Michael Kelly, associate professor of economics, and Mallory SoRelle, assistant professor of government and law; and a grand finale including vocal and dancing performances from numerous international students. 

Professors Hutchinson, Kelly, and SoRelle take part in a COVID-19 discussion as part of the ISA E-Xtravaganza.

All international students who appeared in the videos are registered to remain on campus, and all videos were recorded using proper social distancing guidelines. 

And while some components of the ISA E-Xtravaganza 2020—including a “food tasting” in which participants were encouraged to share photos of their meals—couldn’t be held via a live feed, including those events was a way for students to continue to celebrate their many talents and differences.

“In this time of uncertainty, while some of the students are actually home and some are here on campus, the E-Xtravaganza recreated that domiciliary sense for us whenever we tuned in to the events,” says Malami. “I got numerous texts after from international alums and students alike thanking the board for putting it together. It was unreal.”

Categorized in: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, COVID-19 News, Economics, Faculty and Staff, Featured News, Global Impact, Government and Law, Intercultural Experience, International Students, News and Features, Students