By Molly Burke
The International Student Organization held its annual International Prom Night on Nov. 19 in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Center.
At the Vegas Night themed event, students gathered in the decorated Chestnut Room to dance, enjoy a buffet of food and participate in a best-dressed contest. Entertainment was provided by featured student performers and a DJ. In between dancing, students took photos at set up backdrops while celebrating with friends.
Tafadzwa Mapiki, junior biology major on the BACCMED track, is the president of the ISO. She said her goal was to bridge the gap between domestic and international students with the prom night.
“The prom night is a signature event. The goal was to bridge the gap between international and domestic students. So, we came up with the prom, not just for international students but for everyone,” Mapiki said.
The ISO saw a record-breaking 160 attendees this year. Mapiki said the dance required a lot of preparation for its guests.
“The first thing we did was reach out to the Student Government Association to seek funding. The process takes about four weeks. After we had funding, then we started thinking about stuff we needed — food, decorations and the things that we’re going to do during the event,” Mapiki said.
Nicholas DuBos, advisor for the ISO, said it’s important to have international students build relationships and friendships amongst domestic students.
“We’re a small world, and one of my goals is to get domestic students and international students to interact together. So, a lot of the events we’re doing are for that purpose. It builds friendships, and then a person’s preconceived beliefs can totally change because of meeting someone from a different country,” DuBos said.
According to DuBos, Youngstown State University has around 580 international students. 200 new international students are expected this upcoming 2023’s spring semester.
Freshman English education major, Roy Kim, is from South Korea. He said he came to the prom to experience a part of American culture.
“We never had prom in my home country, so we wanted to experience the culture.” Kim said. “There are a lot of programs for international students like coffee hour and prom night, so I think [YSU] is really perfect for international students.”
In attendance at the prom was freshman psychology major, Cailor Slack. She said she learned about other cultures after meeting students in the ISO, and was excited to celebrate with her friends from abroad.
“I have friends from Spain, Uruguay, Vietnam and lots of places all over. My high school never was really diverse, so coming to Youngstown and being able to talk about different cultures was a big part in choosing wherever I go to college,” Slack said.
While some international students experienced prom for the first time, Slack said it was a great redo for domestic students who went to prom during the height of the pandemic.
“Some of the girls I live with are international students who have never been to prom. It was cool for me to be a part of that experience for someone else because proms are a big deal here,” Slack said. “My school did prom, but it was mask mandated and there was a lot of social distancing. I think, not only for the international students, but for anyone, it was a really great redo.”
For more information on the ISO, check out its Facebook page.