Talent sparkles at ‘Night of 1,000 Stars”

By Julie Balise

The afterHOURS stage sparkled during Monday’s “Night of a Thousand Stars.” The two-hour event, sponsored by the International Student and Scholar Institute (ISSI), featured more than 20 students from numerous parts of the world. In front of an audience of more than 150 students, they showcased various talents from their individual cultures. Scott Quint, Dean and Director of ISSI, was in charge of the event. He said the event was one of several geared toward the orientation of new international students “It’s an informal opportunity to share talent across cultures. People can just get up and do their thing,” he said. The students who participated in the event either signed up beforehand or spontaneously volunteered at the show. Quint said anyone at the university was welcome to participate “whether you’re from Boston or Bombay.” Nader Mokhtar, a senior mechanical engineering major, was the first to perform. He recited Egyptian jokes to the audience which elicited an tepid response. While Mokhtar said some of the jokes would not translate well, he kept comedy as his main goal. “I just like to make everyone laugh all the time,” he said. Mokhtar’s performance was followed by an eclectic array of talent from several cultures and countries. Freshman international business major Odalis Polanco and freshman general engineering major Michael Gonzalez danced the salsa and the merengue, while mixing contemporary moves into the traditional Latin steps. Willie Panagakos, a freshman music technology major, played acoustic guitar and sang modern hits such as Incubus’s “Consequence” and Coldplay’s “Sparks.” Senior marketing and supply chain management major Vincent Prou showcased his break-dancing moves to music by Pink and Annie Lennox. One of the evening’s most popular performers was Shafik Bahou, a junior behavioral neuroscience major. He repeatedly took the stage to demonstrate his beat-boxing and drumming skills as the audience clapped along. During his first performance, Bahou asked everyone to make some noise. “If you don’t have energy, I don’t have energy,” he declared. Bahou then beat-boxed to songs like Usher’s “Yeah!” and the theme from Inspector Gadget. This was followed by some Middle Eastern drumming, accompanied by an occasional tambourine strike or a Moroccan flute. Bahou then lent his beat-boxing talents to Tarun Betala’s performance of “Can’t Get Enough” by Raghav. He concluded the evening with another drumming piece, this time receiving an exuberant response from the audience. Melissa Davis, a business administration major who graduated from Northeastern in May, was the emcee for “Night of a Thousand Stars.” She said the event was significant at a university with such a diverse student body. “I definitely think it’s a very important event. It promotes a lot of cultural learning and makes people aware that there are a lot of international students on campus,” Davis said. Many of the performers also felt the show was an essential cultural experience. Prou said it would help make connections between international students. “It’s a nice way to meet new people and cultures,” he said. “It’s good for international students to share their experiences and make bonds with other international students.” Some students, like Varenka Rodriguez, were new to the ISSI program and attended the event with other international friends. She shared Prou’s sentiment. “There’s a lot of variety that could happen only at a show like this. It’s essential because sometimes you forget about different cultures and this reminds you,” Rodriguez said. The audience members, many whom were involved in ISSI, reacted to the performers by yelling, clapping, and laughing along. At one point, Davis asked how many attendees were from India, to which there was an enthusiastic response. Betala felt that the show gave normally quiet students the opportunity to finally show off. “Most people are shy and hidden, but it’s a thousand stars! That’s how they can actually show their talent,” he said

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