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Going Public: Southeast Missouri State University To Celebrate International Diversity With 'Carpe Diem' Nov. 14th

Credit Carpe Diem

Candy N: Today we do have with us, Tiffany Comfort, coordinator of Campus Life Events to discuss Carpe Diem, which is [happening] on November 14. How are you doing today, Tiffany?

Tiffany Comfort: I'm perfectly fine. How are you?

Candy N: I'm doing great. Thank you. Thank you so much. So I just want to ask you like, how Carpe Diem  started and when it started?

Tiffany Comfort: That's a great question. It actually started with the Office of Residence Life, about 10 years ago, before I was here at the university, and the Office of Residence Life, they wanted to showcase many of the cultures here at SEMO. And so they had some of their graduate assistants work on this program with a lot of the international students, primarily international students. And they created a huge celebration. And they had it I think, even every semester, and after a few years, then they scaled back to having just once a year, because it was such a huge event. And then in 2017, which was my first year here at working at Southeast Missouri State University, I was working in the international office, the Office of International Education and services, and the Office of Residence Life kind of handed it over to the Office of International Education and services. And so that was my first year to help coordinate with the rest of the staff in the office, Carpe Diem. And then for 2018, I actually moved over to a position here and campus life and event services, and Carpe Diem kind of came over to this department with me, but we still collaborate intensely with the Office of International and international education and services so that we can, you know, make sure that we have connections to many different cultures, and students that represent those cultures.

Candy N: In 2020, we really had a tough time in the pandemic. So after the pandemic, with Carpe Diem, I cherish a lot of smiles on every one's face, so am literally excited! Compared to other Carpe Diem's, and the one this year, it's really gonna special because we do have a lot of international students who joined this semester. What are the differences you find when you're organizing the Carpe Diem of 2021?

Tiffany Comfort: Yes, we are super excited that this semester, fall 2021, we were able to welcome over 200 international students, new international students to campus. And that was after, you know, a year of not having many international students able to join us here because of the pandemic. And so this year, it is a true celebration last year. Also due to the pandemic, we were unable to have a Carpe Diem in its normal format, which is a huge event in the Student Recreation Center. We typically have 700 or 800 attendees. Of course, we couldn't do that last year, because of COVID. And so this year, it's kind of like a comeback, Carpe Diem comeback. And to welcome you know, over 200 new international students to be able to showcase their cultures here with this venue. And like I said, that come back is going to be a true celebration in the Student Recreation Center on Sunday, November 14th.

Candy N: So coming to this Carpe Diem, they do have a different task you guys are organizing. Could you please brief us about what the [events] we can expect at this Carpe Diem?

Tiffany Comfort: Sure. So we're reaching out to many international students, especially the cultural student organizations that are registered through campus life and event services. So you know, we have the Bangladeshi Student Association, we have the Japanese Student Association, African Student Association, you know, you name it, we have many different student organizations that are officially registered. So we're reaching out to all of them and asking them to participate in one or more ways, such as having a cultural booth at this event. On Sunday, November 14, the cultural booth would be decorated so that you can kind of feel as if you're in the country or you know, you're within the culture, you can experience it in this booth that they cut, you know, decorating they put together. Also at the booth, there might be activities, such as trying on cultural clothing, so that you can have like a photo booth and in try on some of the clothing, or perhaps a quiz game for prizes to know more about their country and their culture. Or maybe it's being able to receive your name written in a different alphabet on your Carpe Diem program. So there are many different types of events that guests will be able to experience at different cultural booths. But I think one of the main things that people look forward to the most at each cultural booth is the food. So this is a chance for the The cultural student representatives at each booth to make a traditional dish. So maybe it's just a snack, but it could also be a main dish, but they're only going to give taste tests.

Candy N: So it's not like you're going to come and eat a huge buffet dinner?

Tiffany Comfort: No, no, it's going to be having a bite of something and then trying it at each different booth to get a taste literally a taste of that culture. And again, it's something that most students and guests they look forward to is actually tasting these these exotic dishes, okay, and they did have a task of singing and dancing. Yeah, so that's one part is just having the cultural boots. But then, as the cultural boots are, are being managed by the students, and guests are trying the different food, but they're also part you know, participating the different activities, all while this is going on, we have a stage that has students performing. So there are many student groups who have signed up to perform dances, cultural dances. Also, we have students who are very talented and they can sing or play an instrument, and in represents music from their culture. And so that will be happening on stage simultaneously.

Candy N: Okay, October 13 [was] the last day to enroll if we want to participate in any task. So in case some students miss enrollment on October 13th, is there any chance them to be a part of a Carpe Diem activity?

Tiffany Comfort: Yes, I mean, we ask that, you know, October 13, is kind of the flexible deadline to sign up to participate in one or many ways in the event if they want, if any students want to showcase their cultures. But we are going to actually extend that deadline to Sunday, November 17. I believe that is midnight, October 17. So just a few days longer to sign up. Because we really want to make sure that we can talk to everyone who has signed up and make sure everyone is prepared. So we need to buy the ingredients for all the dishes that they're going to make, we need to make sure that we have all the decorations and supplies. And so it does take a lot of preparation. And that's why we're asking that students sign up well in advance. We're about one month away from this huge celebration. And so we are extending that deadline to this Sunday, October 17, to sign up. So if you know any students or faculty or staff who represents different cultures would like to participate. The form to sign up is on SE link. And you can find it if you just click on forms at the top, and it says "Carpe Diem", participation signup form. And that's all you need to do. 

Candy N: Being like a part of Carpe Diem--it's been five years. So it sounds really interesting. And I can see that how much you love your job and all, being in organizing such events. So what is your favorite part? What is your favorite task you'll enjoy?  What is your favorite task with Carpe Diem?

Tiffany Comfort: Oh, that's such a hard question. Because yes, I love the food. I love tasting all the different beverages or snacks, sweets, and especially the the main dishes, but I would have to say I'm blown away by the performances on stage. And not just the dancing or the music, the musical performances, but especially the fashion show, which I haven't mentioned yet, but it is so amazing to see the intricate details of these traditional the traditional attire that a lot of the different cultures have and so they come and you know, you're you're just blown away by all the colors and the the textiles and the embroidery, and just how beautiful so many different cultures, clothing, traditional clothing looks. And so you get to see all of this and really celebrate these cultures through so many different ways. Like I said, fashion, music, dance, and food. And so this event is just an amazing event. It's hard to choose my favorite.

Candy N: Do you have any winners [among] the people who participate in [various] tasks?

Tiffany Comfort: I think in the past they used to make it kind of a competition. But no, this is really an event to just enjoy and explore different cultures. So now, there's no competition aspect to this event. It's really just a celebration. 

Candy N: So would you like to say anything to SEMO regarding Carpe Diem?

Tiffany Comfort: Of course. So besides the students or the faculty and staff who wants to represent their culture at this event, we encourage the SEMO student body to come and explore the world that is here though. We have over 60 countries--six-zero countries-- represented here at SEMO this semester. And so this is a chance for everyone to come and really get to know the diversity that exists here on campus in little tiny, you know, Cape Girardeau. We really do have a part of the world a really huge part of the world that you can explore.

Candy N: Thank you so much for joining us and [speaking with us about] Carpe Diem. I'm looking forward to seeing you on November 14th.



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