Intercultural clubs seek to internationalize App State


Maggie Busch

Left to right: Tan Lin, Elias Devendorf, Savitha Tranquebar, Kevin Ha and Julia Murray. The executive board for the Asian Student Association club ensures the club is a safe space for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and meets weekly to connect and support each other, Feb. 15, 2023.

Erin Isley, Reporter

Along one hallway of Plemmons Student Union, an array of dazzling colored flags hang from the ceiling, painting the top of one’s peripheral vision. Each radiant rectangle that flaps in the breeze of the bustling hallway represents a country where an international student studying at the university is from or where a student or faculty member has studied abroad.

App State is home to more than 20 international, multicultural and religious based clubs  that provide students with the opportunity to engage in international and cultural exploration, according to Intercultural Student Affairs.

International Appalachian, Hillel and the Asian Student Association are three of the intercultural clubs found at App State.  

INTAPP is an organization affiliated with the Office of International Education and Development seeking to internationalize App State by welcoming international students and sending domestic students abroad.

INTAPP members, executives and staff pose for a picture in Plemmons Student Union after their weekly meeting on Feb. 16, 2023.
(Maggie Busch)

“It’s made me a little more understanding. There have been times especially in my first year of INTAPP where I’ve had to cross a few boundaries or had a few cultural differences, but it’s kind of just made me recognize there’s so much more than tiny Boone,” senior history major and president of INTAPP, Lilly Lloyd said. “And that’s really valuable.”

INTAPP assists in the transportation of international students from the airport to campus, International Orientation as well as INTAPP meet and greets where international students can get to know one another and the INTAPP members better. 

“I was really just looking for a community of like-minded people. I, myself, wanted to study abroad, but unfortunately I never did because of COVID, and it never lined up with my schedule,” Lloyd said. “But I really just wanted to increase my cultural awareness.”

INTAPP’s efforts are to provide the opportunity for students to gain a new perspective on their own culture and those of others, according to INTAPP’s mission statement.

President of International Appalachian Lilly Lloyd poses for a portrait in the Plemmons Student Union, Feb. 15, 2023. (Maggie Busch)

“Culture is really just like honoring people’s backgrounds and their traditions and their families,” Lloyd said. 

Hillel is one of the religious clubs on campus that seeks to teach students about the reality of Jewish culture, said Hannah Pines, junior psychology major and co-president of Hillel.

“Hillel is basically the club of Jewish life on campus. That’s the way I explain it,” Pines said. 

While Hillel does not have specified weekly meetings, they do lead Shabbat services once a month at the Temple of the High Country and organize casual hangouts where members commune together to brainstorm ways to spread Jewish cultural awareness. 

“One thing we don’t really do is advertise converting. It’s just kind of like if you learn about the religion, you like the religion, and you want to convert that’s perfectly great, but we don’t really push our religion on people,” Pines said. “We’re more about teaching and learning.” 

Hillel’s next big event will be their Day Against Hate on April 16 on Sanford Mall. Members of Hillel will be raising awareness of antisemitism. 

“We have experienced antisemitism on campus and off campus. One thing that’s very prevalent, in the expression tunnels, there have been things said about Kanye being correct about the Jews and all the horrible things he’s been saying,” Pines said. “There have been swastikas drawn in there and ‘Hail Hitlers.’” 

Hillel hopes to be joined by other intercultural clubs at their Day Against Hate. These clubs can also table and talk about their experiences, Pines said.  

In this way, Hillel seeks to operate as a community and support system for Jews and non-Jews on campus.  

“With Hillel, it’s open to everyone,” Pines said. “It doesn’t matter your denomination. It doesn’t matter if you’re not religious.”

Asian Student Association hosts weekly meetings on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in room 226 of the Plemmons Student Union as well as two yearly events open to everyone. Their fall Charity Gala brought in $859 for Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit organization dedicated to stopping racism against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, said senior chemistry major and president of Asian Student Association Tan Lin. 

ASA encourages students of all cultures and ethnicities to come to their meetings to learn about Asian cultures and engage with fellow students outside of classes, Lin said.

On April 16, ASA will host their Asian Fest featuring a traditional dress fashion show, traditional dance performances from their members, food, games and a guest speaker to talk about their experiences as an Asian American and Pacific Islander. 

“Last year some of my close friends and the previous president, they did tinikling, which is a traditional Filipino dance with two bamboo sticks that two people hold and there’s dancers in between jumping,” Lin said. 

The App State population currently consists of 18.6% racially and/or ethnically underrepresented students, according to Diversity and Inclusion at App State

Both Asian Fest and Hillel’s upcoming Day Against Hate are open to all students regardless of race or ethnicity. Members from the clubs will be available to answer questions about their respective cultures and share their traditions with the App State community at the events. 

“It’s not limited to certain people either. You can fully immerse yourself in a culture if you really wanted to,” Lin said.