ISO’s Rhythm Nations Celebrates International Cultures and Students

Photos by Carolyn Brown '16 | From left to right: Ruth Tekleab Mekbib ’19 performing an Eskista dance, Kaen O ’19 singing “Little Summer” and Carmen Pullella ’16 holding an Italian flag at the opening Flag Parade.

Photos by Carolyn Brown ’16 | From left to right: Ruth Tekleab Mekbib ’19 performing an Eskista dance, Kaen O ’19 singing “Little Summer” and Carmen Pullella ’16 holding an Italian flag at the opening Flag Parade.


Laura Green ’18
Assistant News Editor

Smith students from 28 different countries held their flags high as they walked across the stage of John M. Greene Hall, proudly shouting the names of their homelands into the microphone. The flags represented countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and South America including Zimbabwe, Malaysia, Russia, Paraguay and many more. The Flag Parade was a beautiful start to an energetic and entertaining night hosted by the International Students Organization (ISO).

After the Flag Parade, performances ranged from modern songs, such as four students singing “I Love Asia – Smile Again” in multiple Asian languages, to traditional dances, such as Ruth Tekleab Mekbib ’19, who performed a Eskista-Ethiopian dance. The loudest applause of the night came when Smith K-pop was announced. The group performed a medley of six dances, each full of energy and style. ODotteMita, a five-college J-pop dance group, brought an equal amount of excitement, coupled with impressive outfit changes. V-pop also made an appearance, with members from the Vietnamese Students’ Association dancing to “Em Cua Ngay Hom Qua (You Yesterday).”

“Rhythm Nations is and always has been a great platform to showcase the diversity of cultures and heritages that exist at Smith and in the Five College area,” said Pooja Hindocha ’16, president of ISO. “There is a lot of pride associated with Rhythm Nations, possibly because it allows students from around the world to give us a brief glimpse into a significant cultural/social part of their life back home.”

The Five Colleges were also represented in the performance of Wind Flow, a Chinese fan dance that comes from the Han ethnic group. It was performed by Dan Lin ’18 and Mabel Ye, a student at UMass Amherst. Mount Holyoke’s Jhumka, a Bollywood fusion dance team, also put on a fantastic show at Rhythm Nations. Smith’s SC Masti, which combines Bollywood, bhangra, hip-hop and classical dance, was equally impressive.

Sophia Zhu ’18, one of two stage managers at Rhythm Nations said, “Collaboration is the theme, both for the backstage work and the show itself, which honors diversity as well as harmony.” She went on to say, “It is a product of everyone’s efforts combined – performers, organizers, technical directors. Everybody willingly took their spare time to contribute to this performance.”

Hindocha felt that part of the goal of Rhythm Nations is to “make the general Smith community aware of the various places and communities that we come from.” Performances ranged from places such as Bangladesh and Mexico, with Srabasti Sarker ’18 and her song “She Je Boshe Ache,” dedicated to Farah Hamud Khan ’16, her friend and vice president of ISO, and Mexico with Danza Azteca’s  indigenous dance. Performances also included a Nepali dance to the song “Lahana Le Jurayo Ki,” an African fusion dance performance by SACSA combined from various countries around the continent and a catchy Japanese pop song “Little Summer,” sung by Kaen O ’19.

The event closed with a video of senior international students talking about their experiences in ISO and at Smith as a whole. They joked about the culture shock associated with being on time, the food at Smith and misguided questions about their lives at home. Many mentioned the friends they had made through ISO, saying that their international peers were like a family at Smith.

Hindocha said her favorite part about Rhythm Nations is “the effort and joy of the performers as they rehearse and showcase something that is so intimately ingrained in their lives, as well as the fact that in one two-hour show, we all get a chance to see some sort of cultural piece from almost every corner of the world.” Everyone in the auditorium could see the passion these students have for the places they hailed from, as well as the hard work every person put in.

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