ISO open mic night celebrates diversity

Walker Chuppe/The USD Vista –
Cyrus Lange and Abdullah Sultan perform a unique cover of The Smiths.

The University of San Diego often celebrates diversity and multiculturalism, especially through the participation of international students who represent a vast array of cultures and traditions on campus. After last year’s initial success, USD’s International Student Organization (ISO) hosted its 2nd annual open mic event in Salomon Hall. ISO showcased performances of traditional and contemporary music, dance, and comedy.

A lighthearted and lively event, ISO’s open mic night was a fun experience for both international and domestic students. The event fostered bonds between cultures, and the welcoming atmosphere helped anyone in Salomon Hall feel at home.

The event is open to all USD students and all students are encouraged to perform. Performances ranged from stand-up comedy to traditional Arabian music, and all of the acts seemed well-received by an enthusiastic audience.

The open mic event had a list of around eight performers who had signed up prior to the Apr. 27 show. After the arranged performers, the stage was opened to anyone else who desired to play in front of a lively crowd. In between acts, students were able to try a variety of Indian cuisine provided by ISO, which brought some unique flavors to USD.

Sophomore Aryaman Madireddy kicked off the event with some stand-up comedy based on his life experiences. While it may be daunting to debut new stand-up material in front of a crowd, Madireddy took the moment in stride and with great spirit.

The audience was responsive as well: from the start until the last performances, the atmosphere was fantastic. Students filled the seats and standing areas in the hall—it was a relaxed multicultural event for all USD students.   

Junior Christina Saad shared her thoughts on her experience in the audience at ISO’s open mic night.

“The best part about music is that it goes beyond borders and defies language barriers,” Saad said. “ISO open mic night was a night of celebrating one another and discovering the hidden talents in the people around us.”

Students from India, Saudi Arabia, England, China, as well as other countries performed at the open mic, and collaborated with a few domestic students as well. Sophomore Abdullah Sultan played an instrumental version of “Hotel California” by the Eagles with senior Khaled Alaskar. Their rendition was a unique take on the classic American song. Sultan played the vocal melody on the oud, a traditional Middle Eastern stringed instrument, while Alaskar strummed the backing chords on guitar. The two blended multiple cultures with their version of the popular song.

“It was great to have an opportunity to share my culture and hobby with other members of the USD international community,” Sultan said. “And I was never nervous because everyone there was family.”

The open mic wrapped up with a few solo guitar and singing performances. As the event came to a close, the crowd demanded for sophomore Cyrus Lange to go up and play a song. In a humorous scene, Lange was joined by Sultan on stage with the crowd cheering their names.

The two played a rendition of The Smith’s “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want,” with Lange playing guitar and singing, and Sultan backing him up on the oud. The performance ended with hoots and hollers from the crowd. It punctuated the open mic night nicely.

In a time when the current political climate isn’t always welcoming to foreigners, it’s encouraging to see USD students doing their part to create open spaces for people to exchange cultures and have a good time. No matter what country they are from, it seems this event proves that Toreros can all share in the joy and laughter of good music and good times.

Written by Walker Chuppe, Arts & Culture Editor