Last week’s LSE Students’ Union International Week brought a Houghton Street Expo to campus, and succeeded in celebrating global diversity through a series of events including cultural activities and parties.
The week was organised by the Students’ Union International Students’ Officer, Michael Lok, working in conjunc- tion with many of the Students’ Union’s national societies. Differing from the Students’ Union’s previous Global Weeks, International Week was decentralised, with a focus on working with students and societies to enrich the cultures represented during the week. Lok said, “This year, the SU sought to provide a platform for individuals to take the stage and to demonstrate what their countries are like and what their societies provide to their members.”
The centrepiece of International Week was the Houghton Street Expo, inspired by Expo 2010, which was held in Shanghai from May to October 2010. The event in Shanghai gave more than 190 countries the opportunity to showcase their culture and heritage in unique pavilions and at- tracted in excess of 73 million visitors.
The Houghton Street Expo took place all of last week and saw many of the university’s cultural societies representing their countries at gazebos along the length of Houghton Street, resulting in an array of coloured flags and banners, a vast range of music, an abundance of food and drink and even the showcasing of traditional costumes.
The Kazakhstan Society’s Events Officer, Aya Rakhimzhanova, said, “International Society has been a good opportunity for us to present our country and present our society… we wanted to prove to people that there’s much more to Kazakhstan than just Borat!”
Fabian Schrey, President of the Swiss Society, said, “We had a vast number of people coming along and, as a result of International Week, my society is now in close contact with the Swiss Embassy, and a few Swiss and German newspapers are writing reports on us as they saw the stall.”
The International Week also included the first ever International Assembly to be hosted by the Students’ Union, which took the form of a mini-conference. Christina Yan Zhang, the National Union of Students’ (NUS) International Students Officer, discussed issues affecting international students along with speakers from the LSE’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations (ODAR), the Interna- tional Student Immigration Service, the Fourth Floor Restaurant and the Language Centre.
Many of the societies invited to take part in the Houghton Street Expo also organised their own events to tie in with the aims of International Week. These included Asian Careers Week, an Italian Pizza Party, the Hungarian Society Luncheon, the Music Society’s International Open Mike night, the Polish Vodka Party and the Baltic Film Night. The LSE’s Fourth Floor restaurant also presented a week of international cuisine.
International Week ended with the tenth anniversary of Bhangra Crush on the Friday, organised by the Sikh-Punjab Society. The event was very popular, with music provided by DJ Raj and live dhol players who kept energy levels high. Ravandeep Kaur Khela, President of the Sikh-Punjab Society, said, “The night had a great atmosphere and it was important for many students to reconnect with their cultural roots. Hundreds of students joined in with the Bhangra (Punjabi folk dancing), and this was an uplifting sight to see!”
Many students were involved in the execution of the week, reflecting the fact that a high proportion of LSE’s student body is international. Lok added, “It seems like students rarely have the chance to get the opportunity to learn more about the many nationalities and cultures here… I hope students managed to get a feel of where each other comes from and to truly enjoy and gain from the international side of the LSE.”