By Vy Nguyen
Intercultural Student Association, or ISA, is one of the core groups at OES that continues to encourage the growth of students as a community.
Each year, the association hosts a conference named “Culture Shock”, which is the annual student diversity and social justice convention that celebrates and explores cultures via workshops, affinity groups, and other experiences.
Whilst celebrating the success of Culture Shock 2018, members of ISA reflected on the flaws and mistakes that occurred this year and discussed for potential solutions to ensure better quality for the following conferences using the data collected from surveys and observations.
- The survey
One should always learn from mistakes, and to improve Culture Shock, Dori sent out a survey to attendants, asking for reflections, opinions, and suggestions that would improve the event next year. While the answers collected have been really helpful, there were not as many responses as expected, hence the data may not have been thorough enough. ISA members have come up with the solution of having everyone take the survey right after the closing ceremony so as to ensure the quality of responses, and this idea is further developed that maybe next year, ISA would use Quizlet Live or Kahoot to increase participation in the survey.
- Keynote speaker
Culture Shock welcomed Gina Loring, a poet, vocalist, professor, and activist as the keynote speaker of the event. Feedbacks regarding Loring’s speech at the opening ceremony has been extremely positive, with many comments about how her speech really moved them and changed their perspectives about people. However, there were still problems about the setup, and ISA is reconsidering the presentation space with the fact that there were not enough seats for everyone in the great hall and the sound quality may not be adequate.
One of the most celebrated new introductions this year at Culture Shock is the increasing length of lunchtime. While there were some faculty responses that the one-hour lunch was too much, students have been very supportive of the idea, responding that the longer meal helped them connect with peers, have extra rest to prepare for the next workshop and enjoy the conference more.
- The closing ceremony
Many of you who had attended Culture Shock 2018 sure remembered the closing ceremony. Student leaders Hannah W.’19 and Olivia D.’18 made speeches by answering students’ questions about being an activist and how to take actions, and Noe J.’19 blessed us again with her amazing vocal talent. While I, along with many other attendants, was really impressed, there were feedbacks suggesting the closing ceremony could have been better.
From the data collected, there were many suggestions about the speakers. One of the reasons why the closing ceremony was not as successful as it was planned out was the audio quality: many attendants reported that sometimes they could not hear what the speakers were talking about, which led to confusion over the content of the speech. On the other hand, there were some suggestions of having only one speaker for both the opening and the closing ceremony. There is no specific solution that has been come up with at the moment, but during the ISA meeting, many favored the idea and considered trying it out next year. The goal of audience engagement is still one of the top priorities.
- Affinity Group/ Open Space
According to ISA members, there are still many things that need to be improved about the Open Space session. There will be more options for Open Space next year: screening movies is a possibility next year. In addition, the session will be held in the same location so as not to confuse people.
While there were many workshops that succeeded in conveying their messages and received a lot of favorable feedbacks, there were still some that did not meet the expectations laid out by attendants. Therefore, to ensure better quality, ISA proposed that they would improve the naming and descriptions of each workshop so as not to cause confusion, and there will also possibly be a mandatory workshop training session for workshop leaders.
In the past, there have been workshops that are offered by schools that sent students to Culture Shock, however, there were not any this year. Next year, ISA members will connect with other school representatives earlier and they will also invite the workshop leaders that facilitated workshops in the past to increase the workshop selections for attendants.