International Student Organization Brings the World to USD

From Inside USD -- On Friday, May 3, the University of San Diego’s International Student Organization (ISO) will host its 28th annual International Expo and Fashion Show. Every spring semester since 1985, the university has hosted this event to showcase its diversity and give students a chance to share their cultures with the community around them.

The expo will include an international buffet, music and performances to showcase each continent across the globe, as well as a fashion show that gives students an opportunity to strut down the runway in the culmination of their efforts. The show’s hosts will serve as educational guides to the audience and will describe each model and their representation’s origin. It will be held in the University Center Forums from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

As the longest-standing tradition of the longest-running student organization, the fashion show has evolved to become one of the university’s signature events and attracts a great deal of effort and attention.

“The International Student Organization is the longest standing student organization and this all began over 30 years ago when Yvette Fontaine and a small group of international students wanted a way to express themselves,” said Greg Grassi, assistant director of Office of International Students and Scholars and ISO advisor. The fashion show “provides a way for the students to share a piece of their culture.”

What began as a small dinner for some of the international students has grown to represent every continent and more than 30 countries through their fashion, music, dance and cuisine.

The fashion show is of great significance to USD’s international recognition. The undergraduate study abroad program is ranked No. 1 in the nation for student participation percentage, according to the Institute of International Education Open Doors report the last two years. Likewise, ISO recognizes that it is equally important to invite many international students to USD to bring lessons from other cultures.

As the signature event, the ISO students are largely hands-on and take great pride in producing the event and bringing the show to attendees. In fact, involvement has grown so much, that now many of the models that participate are not only representing a country they are originally from, but are also helping others display their individual cultures.

Lauren Litz, USD exchange program advisor, said she was “pleasantly surprised by the students being in charge” and is impressed by the extent to which the students develop, produce and run such a spectacular show.

— Kevin Wright ‘13