To help celebrate and bring awareness about Women’s History Month, Flypaper Mag writer Aly Me sat down with ODU student Evonne English, Vice President of the World Student Club.
FlyPaper Recognizes Women’s History Month with WCW: Evonne English
Evonne English, a 23 year old junior at Ohio Dominican University (ODU), literally just realized that her extracurricular activities qualify her as an advocate. The Middle Childhood Education major has been hard at work preparing for the 2016 International Fashion Show at ODU, happening next Tuesday, March 22, from 6:30 pm – 8:30.
As Vice President of the World Student Club at ODU, Evonne has played a vital role in growing opportunities for both international and domestic students to express their culture and their unique backgrounds with the students, faculty and community of ODU. The World Student Club, one of ODU’s multicultural organizations, provides support to students of diverse backgrounds, helping them adjust to their new life in the U.S. by strengthening relationships between students from all over the world. The new role was one that Evonne just kind of stepped into, but it has allowed her to transform her passions into something huge for underrepresented students at her school.
Last school year, Evonne was just a member of the group but was asked to step into a leadership role for this year. Her biggest project so far: the upcoming International Fashion Show. What used to be two separate events, the World Student Club has combined, just split into two half’s. The first half will be a Food Festival, featuring dishes from the different international groups that’ll be represented in the fashion show. The second half will be the actual fashion show, showcasing members of the World Student Club and the modern clothing from the various countries that they represent. The countries that will be represented are Korea, Mexico, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, China, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Nepal, Japan and maybe even Scotland. The biracial leader, whose father is German and African American and mother is Puerto Rican, joined the club to become more involved and ultimately found so much more.
What inspired you to join the club?
I’ve always been interested in the diversity of cultures. Especially Asian cultures. Different perspectives of the world. Always loved traveling and I just wanted to get more involved.
I have never had a problem being accepted. I will talk to anyone; I’m very social. I can flow through different groups, so it really pains me when people think that they can’t relate to a person or interact with them. So, they’re different. Who cares? I want students that come from all over to know that they can fit in but they don’t have to change themselves. And also, to show domestic students that you’re not just “it”. There’s so much more.
Why is this work so important to the community?
With everything going on. What trump is saying, ‘Ban Mexicans… Muslims are not supposed to be here.’ It’s crazy. Especially when you look at American history. No one’s really supposed to be here except Native Americans.
I want to teach people to take the time to understand people that are different than they are. People are so quick to judge other, but wants people to understand them. Understanding cultural differences needs to be a unified effort.
It’s important because it has only been a club for two-three years. We’re hoping to start a tradition for those who come after us. The point is to highlight what makes up this school. If you walk around campus at 12:30 in the afternoon, you may just see a bunch of white catholic kids walking around and few black kids. But we have a ton of international students, adult students that are non-traditional, etc.
People want to show their pride and tell everyone else something about themselves. This clubs gives them a chance to really show something about their country for people who don’t know anything about it.
How has your past shaped your current views, and how can you use it to help others?
I know that it was different for me. It’s different because I grew up with my German grandma in Alexandria, Virginia. We had money. Was never disadvantaged. Went to school with people who were privileged. I was always told I could do this. ‘You can excel.’ For people who didn’t have that experience, it can be hard because you can’t change your circumstances, but you have to realize that there’s something a lot bigger than this.
If you know what you want to do. Look past that and focus on your goals. Not everyone gets those messages. Realizing your strengths. Recognize your interests and make them work for you.
I think that’s why my focus is on Middle Childhood Education. Middle school is when kids start getting cliquey. This is when kids start to understand why things are important to learn. Development years. They recognize deep down that school is not their entire life. If you have a teacher, a mentor, a friend –anyone who can help give you the tools to stay afloat and succeed—that could change your life. At that time in their life they’re still able to be influenced, as opposed to waiting until they are well off into their high school years.
What are some of the most difficult obstacles you’ve faced in being Vice President of the World Student Club?
We have a hard time getting American students involved. They feel like it’s not for them. Which so misses the point. It’s hard to get them to care.
What’s the most rewarding part?
Ok. So there are two different rewards. How I feel, and then how everyone else in the group feels.
It’s worthwhile for me to be involved. I want members to feel that they can talk about anything. Their comfortability makes me feel important and that I’m making a difference. Especially when people come back to the programs or join the group.
This is bigger than I am. I help the students share their perspectives. This actually lines up with some of ODU’s mission statement that basically means learn everything you can and then share that with others. There’s an infinite amount of knowledge to share, especially surrounding diversity and culture. That’s how you break down barriers.
For the Japanese New Year, we had a member who wanted to hold an event for it. He was nervous, so I presented the information he’d given me, allowing other students, who knew nothing about it, to experience it. By the end, people had so many questions and they were really interested. And the Japanese member was so excited to answer them all. The students that we represent never get to talk about themselves and where they’re from, their culture and what that means to them. So that was a great feeling. And that’s why we need to get more people involved who’re not in our club, so we can have these types of conversations.
What’s next for you and the club?
Next year I’ll be president of the World Student Club. I would like to bring on a Vice President who’s not a senior. Preferably a freshman or a sophomore. I’m hoping for longevity. I want to be able to come back in 5 years and know that this club is still there and that it’s stronger. If we don’t keep it up, it’ll disappear. It is important that we grow and stay relevant.
Personally, I am hoping to graduate. Teach English in maybe Korea or Japan.
The World Student Club welcomes every student who is interested in learning more about foreign countries. The 2016 International Fashion Show will be held at Ohio Dominican University, Tuesday, March 22, @6:30 pm in the bottom floor of the Griffin Student Center. All are welcome. The Food Festival (6:30 pm) will be on a first-serve, first-come basis*. The Fashion Show portion of the celebration is scheduled to begin at 7:15 pm.
This event is free and open to the public. Members of the club will be accepting donations. All donations go towards a fundraiser aimed to help students with costs for opportunities to study abroad.
*Dishes for the food festival are by donation. If you are looking to donate please send the group a message here