FHSU Proves to be “World Ready” at Inauguration


“There is no place like home,” remarked President Tisa Mason in her inauguration speech on Friday morning — a reference to President Mason’s previous experience as Vice-President of Student Affairs at Fort Hays State University. However, various festivities during the inaugural weekend showcased how these words have an even deeper meaning than previously realized.

Towards the beginning of the inauguration ceremony, several international students arrived waving their countries’ flags to showcase the diversity that Fort Hays has championed for years. There were various video testimonies from several employees describing how the university has impacted their lives and what it is that makes the university great. However, one clip in particular stood out.

Junwen Su, current president of the CSSA (Chinese Students and Scholars Association), appeared among the many clips of employees and former students congratulating President Mason on becoming the new president. Su, on behalf of the CSSA congratulated Mason and even went on to describe what it means to be representing China here at Fort Hays.

The CSSA organized a Dragon Dance in the Quad after the inauguration as an example of good faith and celebration of Mason’s inauguration. For some background, the Dragon Dance goes back all the way to the Han Dynasty. It also features dancers with a dragon figure, which exemplifies qualities such as dignity and power. The Dragon Dance is also considered a sign of good luck.

At noon, several members could be seen with traditional Chinese clothing waving the dragon around in the Quad. However, it was not just Chinese students. There was an American student among them as well.

“Being here at inauguration means we have the chance to show our respect for the new president and also have the chance to represent the culture of China,” said Zhou Shibou, CSSA’s incoming president.

Su also emphasized the significance of the dragon dance in particular.

“The dragon is not just for every event. It is normally just for very special people,” said Su. “It is kind of a way of showing encouragement for our new president. It is also a way for the Chinese community on campus to come together for the event.”

Fiamma Li, the new Vice-President of CSSA, spoke briefly about integrating into the new American life here on campus.

“The fact that all of the international students are doing this on campus means that we are now a part of the campus,” said Li. “We share our culture with our new teachers, and most importantly, our president.”

Organizing such events can be tedious, but nonetheless, the CSSA is only continuing on from here as there will be the Moon Festival in a couple of weeks as well as their routine for the Oktoberfest parade.

FHSU has other organizations such as the International Student Union and African Student Union that also organize events during events during this time period. Having been a formal international student myself, I can understand the feeling of forging my own path in a different country and eventually calling it my second home.

For this very reason, President Mason’s words make an even more profound point then we realize. Fort Hays is not just home to local students, but also to the many students that leave their home countries to be here.

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