ISO hosts international fashion show


Photo Courtesy of Walker Chuppe

Photo Courtesy of Walker Chuppe

From the cultures of Azerbaijan to Venezuela, the University of San Diego’s International Student Organization celebrated diversity and tradition at the 31st Annual International Expo and Fashion Show on Friday, April 29.

The show kicked off with an introduction by senior Khaled Alaskar, who serves as president of ISO.  Together with University President James T. Harris, they welcomed the friends, family, and supporters of ISO, and the multicultural community that USD has built over the last three decades.

Sophomore Sarah Khan, who had a front row seat for the show, particularly enjoyed the opening performance.

“The drum music and dancing had a lasting impression on my friends and I, and we’re planning on going to one of their classes next weekend,” Kahn said.

The entertainment started with vibrant drumming and dancing from West Africa, and the upbeat harvest songs set the stage for the rest of the show.  The Senegalese traditional dance performers then invited audience members onto the runway to take part in the song and dance.  The call-and-response nature of the songs brought the entire room to life, and the rest of the audience encouraged the performers and their new backup dancers.

Sophomore Michael Schwabe was fascinated by the West African performances.

“It was such good fun that the song is still stuck in my head,” Schwabe said. “It made me want to get up and dance with them, which is what everyone ended up doing at the end of the night.”

After the drum and dance perfomance wound down, and the audience members returned to their seats, a word from ISO vice president, Yanran Xiong, introduced the main event of the night –– the fashion show.  Cultural garments from countries such as Indonesia, Scotland, Mexico, and Taiwan, were displayed by student models on the runway.

Sophomore Arianna Farha was featured as a model with a traditional Moroccan dress.

“It was a very nerve-wracking but overall exhilarating experience,” Farha said.

Hours of preparation and rehearsal were required so that fashion show would run smoothly. The models were required to wait backstage, looking out at the crowd, until their turn to walk down the runway.   

Upon reaching the midpoint in the event, the runway procession was paused for a feature performance from one of ISO’s very own, sophomore Xiaofei Zhang, who brought some traditional Chinese culture to USD.

Zhang performed heartfelt music on his Chinese stringed-instrument, called erhu, which he has played since he was a child in his hometown, Chengdu.

“To step out on stage definitely requires a degree of bravery, but once I was out on stage, the only thing that I felt was that I wanted to do my best for the audience,” Zhang said.

The unique music from his erhu, which sounds similar to a cello, emotionally moved the audience.

Zhang reflects on the impact from the performances during the evening.

“The event was wonderful; I especially enjoyed the moment when everyone got up on stage [during the African dance], and the rest of the audience cheered for us,” Zhang said.

Photo Courtesy of Walker Chuppe

Photo Courtesy of Walker Chuppe

After Zhang’s traditional erhu performance, the runway resumed with more examples of clothing from a multitude of different cultures.  Because of the multicultural nature of the event, the attendees were not only able to see the garments of different countries on stage, but were also able interact with others from diverse cultural backgrounds.  A performance of Irish Step Dancing signaled the end of the fashion show, but not until a procession featuring all the models together was completed.

Schwabe commented how professional the event was, especially since it was student-run.

“There was a cool airplane traveling theme with a variety of restaurants from different countries,” Schwabe said. “It was not only USD members but those of the greater international San Diego community in attendance. The event opened up my perspective of how diverse USD community is because there were so many people from different parts of the world.”

With final words from both Khaled Alaskar and Yanran Xiong, the 31st Annual International Expo and Fashion show came to a close.