While rummaging through a closet in Coxe Hall in 2016, Teresa Cusumano discovered multiple boxes filled with copies of Foni, a Lehigh magazine that featured the voices of international students.
It stopped publishing in the late ‘80s, but Cusumano said when she found the old copies roughly three decades later, she was inspired to start the publication back up again and is now the faculty adviser.
Now, instead of solely featuring international students, the magazine has expanded to be more globally inclusive.
“So, we made it into International Voices, which includes everyone,” Cusumano said. “There are domestic students, international students, and we have staff and faculty who have contributed to the magazine.”
In the fall of 2016, submissions opened, encouraging members of the Lehigh community to share stories, articles, poems, photographs and artwork with the publication. The next year, in the spring of 2017, the first printed edition of International Voices was published.
Since then, four issues of International Voices have been published and distributed as a physical magazine and stored digitally on their official website, featuring the work of over 25 contributors from various backgrounds.
Xiaochu Dong, ‘25, the treasurer for International Voices, said the magazine is an opportunity for the Lehigh community to see the world from other perspectives.
“We want to gather the works and artworks from students of different backgrounds,” Dong said. “We want to hear from all of them.”
Dong said the International Voices team gathers campus submissions, and after submissions close on March 15, the team begins putting it all together for publication in April.
When selecting which pieces to include in the magazine, Cusumano said she anonymizes each submission and asks the staff to vote on what content will be featured.
However, she said the staff tries to include everyone who submits work because the most important thing to her is ensuring everyone’s voice is heard.
Wanjing Ding, ‘25, is the president of International Voices and an international student from China. When she first came to Lehigh, she said she did not feel very confident in herself. However, when she joined the publication team in the fall of her sophomore year, she said she met new people who helped her become comfortable on campus.
“I think if students can show their work, they can become more confident and enjoy themselves here,” Ding said. “The most important thing is that our club offers opportunities for all international students, to help them be involved on campus.”
Cusumano said the magazine’s purpose has evolved since she first re-started the publication. She said initially, the magazine’s main focus was to give recognition to student artists.
However, over the past couple of years, she said the COVID-19 lockdowns and varying political and social issues have added stress and trauma to students’ traumatic personal experiences. She said this has allowed the magazine to serve as a positive and creative way for Lehigh’s international community to express their opinions and highlight important issues.
“I think what is so important about it is to give people a way that they can express themselves in a positive, creative and inclusive way,” Cusumano said. “That’s what I think its mission has become.”
Cusumano said the club does its best to recognize international students and diversity on campus by being involved in related campus initiatives throughout the year.
She said the club collaborates frequently with other organizations and clubs. They work with students in the Global Union to host events such as the cultural mosaic art event, the feminist magazine In My Birthday Suit with the Center for Gender Equity, and Lehigh After Dark to host paint nights, spa days, and other workshops.
The magazine also gets involved in various activities and events throughout International Week on campus, which lasts from Nov. 10-17.
While the magazine is only published once a year, Cusumano said she hopes through their various events and involvement on campus, International Voices can bring students, coming from across the world, together.
“At Lehigh, you’ve got Greek life, you’ve got the athletes, you’ve got people that go off in their own little individual groups,” Cusumano said. “And I really think through the magazine, I’ve seen people come together.”