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Annual ISCO Festival brings international flavor to Troy

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Georgia Blanchard

Chief Copy Editor

The International Student Cultural Organization (ISCO) held its annual ISCO Festival Thursday, Nov. 15, featuring food and entertainment from cultures all over the world. 

Everyone was invited to attend, and the event was almost completely sold out, with about 300 people attending. 

According to Matthew Knopps, a junior accounting major from Pell City and the treasurer of the club, ISCO members worked the whole fall semester and part of the previous spring semester to put together the festival. 

“It’s a lot of work; we have a really big team put together to pick talent, pick food, organize — anything under the sun, we have a team for it,” Knopps said. 

Students and faculty performed acts from around the world, including Soran Bushi, the Japanese fisherman dance.

“Soran Bushi was started in the north island called Hokkaido, my home island; catching fish is part of the dance,” said Airi Mori, the Japan Outreach Initiative coordinator at Troy and one of the performers in the festival. 

“Many elementary schools in Japan do the dance for school once a year.”

The festival showcased food from cultures around the world, including Pad Thai, Swedish meatballs, Mexican casserole and Caesar salad. 

Though the food offered plenty of international spice, the entertainment was the main event. Those attending the festival were able to see a variety of acts from around the world, including several dances from different countries. 

“I really didn’t know what to expect to see, but when I saw (some of the dancers) out in the lobby waiting for it, I got really excited because I remembered their dances from the ISCO India Night — that was what I was looking forward to initially,” said Kyle Shook, a senior English major from Pike Road. “They were friends that I recognized and an act that I knew was going to be phenomenal. 

“Otherwise, I was just looking forward to seeing what all our international students had to offer.”

According to Savannah Cousins, a senior human services major from Ramstein, Germany, and the president of ISCO, the club hosts the festival yearly and has country nights every Thursday to help promote diversity on campus. 

“It provides you with an open mindset and a door to new opportunity,” Cousins said. “That’s what we’re all about — promoting peace on campus and diversity and getting to know one another rather than judging each other for our differences.”

The final part of the night included an activity in which both ISCO Festival performers and audience members could participate. Everyone in the room was invited to hold a different country’s flag and circle the room to represent the cultures of the world and Troy’s diversity. 

“The reason we have (the ISCO Festival) is to bring a little bit of the world at large to Troy University,” Cousins said, “and to give people — not only American, but from other places — an opportunity to look through a lens and see that culture and country in a different light.”