By Elizabeth Haas
“Read it. Read it,” the audience chanted. Jindong He walked back across the stage to the podium, tucked his certificate of publication behind his book and began to read.
At 6 p.m. Monday night, He and 50 other students and faculty from the ESL Institute gathered with their friends around café tables in the MUB Entertainment Center to celebrate the third issue of International Voices. Vegetable sushi, punch and cake were served to celebrate, and certificates of publication were given to students whose work was chosen for the book. The students were also encouraged to read excerpts of their own work.
“We thought there needed to be a new way for students to have an outlet for creative writing,” said Katherine Earley, director of the ESL Institute. “It’s really the faculty and students who have brought the excitement.”
International Voices is a yearly publication compiled of a collection of poems, essays and photographs, all submitted by international students at the UNH. Students submit pieces to the ESL Institute via email by the last day of the fall semester. The International Voices Team, including three faculty advisors and five student editors in the ESL program, read the submissions and decide which pieces to include in the final book.
“The students make all the decisions,” said Andrea Paquin, faculty advisor to the International Voices program and an English lecturer for the ESL Institute.
Paquin’s role is setting up meeting times and helping with the logistics of putting the book together. The five student editors read each piece and then explain to the entire group why they believe the piece should or should not be included.
Jie Zhao is in her third year at University of New Hampshire and served as one of the student editors. Her work was published in the first and second issues as well.
“My parents are very proud of me,” Zhao said. “My mother put the book in the living room.”
Zhao and student editors Yanxi Lu and Yongjiao Hu called each of the 25 students with published work to the stage, handing them certificates and encouraging them to read their work aloud.
“When asked to write this poem, it was the beginning of winter,” said Vinicius Celeste before he began reading. “I’m from Brazil, and I’m not used to the cold.”
His poem spoke of longing to have his feet breathe fresh air after having to wear winter boots for so long.
The program has grown since it received its first 30 submissions for the original issue three years ago. This year the editors read over 50 submissions, but due to budget constraints, only half were chosen for publication. Earley said that with the increased selectivity, students view publication as an even greater honor.
“In my hometown it rarely snows,” said Mizuki Hidaka, an exchange student from the Saitama University in Japan.
Hidaka wrote her poem “Wishes in Winter” in response to “The Snow Man,” a poem by Wallace Stevens.
“Because his poem seemed like indirect and objective, I decided to write a poem subjectively while I was transformed into the snowman,” Hidaka said in a note published above her poem.
Qichen He’s photograph of a fall maple tree during peak leaf season, titled “The Fire Maple,” was chosen for the cover. It was also pictured on the cake that was served during the event.
“We have to put a tree on the cover every year,” student editor Yanxi Lu said. “It’s our tradition.”