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International students open a lens into their cultures with the Noon Concert Series


IU students study in the seating area across Starbucks on Oct. 27 in the Indiana Memorial Union. Senior Dhruv Kapoor performed Friday during the Noon Concert Series. Alex Deryn

It’s a Friday morning and the Indiana Memorial Union Starbucks is packed.  The windows expose the colors of the fall leaves outside, the smell of freshly brewed coffee permeates the air, study materials are sprawled out on the many wooden tables and there’s a line out the door of sleep-deprived students hoping to get a jolt of energy before their next class.

Sitting alone in front of it all is senior Dhruv Kapoor.

Eyes focused on a music stand, he strums a fine-tuned guitar and begins singing a medley he composed that included “Hey Jude” by the Beatles and popular Bollywood songs. The rest of his set continued this trend, combining other English songs, like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls, with music from his Indian heritage.

“A lot of the music that I have performed are from different generations of music, so the ‘70s, ‘80s, 2000s,” Kapoor said. “It’s almost kind of an all-encompassing sort of performance and I try to pick artists that have never received international acclaim.”

Kapoor is only one of the many international students that have performed at the Noon Concert Series sponsored by the Office of International Services. Every other Friday, an international student has the chance to show off their musical abilities in front of an audience of their fellow peers. Performers are encouraged to share cultural music from their home countries and take ownership in the way their talents are presented.

Kapoor has been playing the guitar and ukulele for six years. He has performed for the Noon Concert Series every semester for two and a half years as a way to get experience performing and to represent his culture in a positive light.

Kapoor is also a part of the all-campus ensemble band where he plays alongside a large group of other students and their guitars. He said the Noon Concert Series has been beneficial as he is by himself and has to learn to attract a crowd and perform in front of others alone.

“We just want students to be able to express themselves while they’re here,” Katie Goodroad, the coordinator for international orientation and outreach, said. “It’s a way for the students to take pride (in their culture) but also present something in the way that they want and tell their own story.”

The Student Life team at the Office of International Services works to prioritize diversity and incorporate a wide variety of cultures into the program. Past performances have included cellos and violins, Mandarin rap, traditional Chinese instruments, acoustic guitar and singing. 

Goodroad explained how the concert series is a way for domestic students to obtain a cultural lens into another country. Kapoor’s medleys are just one example of the ways international students who have performed are able to introduce other students to the sounds of their home country.  

“One of the most exciting parts (of performing) is just trying to get everyone’s attention towards Indian music,” Kapoor said. “Just the fact that I would have a platform to spread awareness and be able to show my skills as well is great.”

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