‘Under Two Skies’ exhibit explores fusion of culture

Freely Magazine, a publication for international students, held its end-of-year event on Thursday.

Shefa Ahsan, who placed first in the "Under Two Skies" photography competition, explored what it means to be a Muslim and American woman. | SIYUN (TIFFANY) AI / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Freely Magazine held its second end-of-year event in the Science Education and Research Center lobby last Thursday.

The event displayed the photography and art of international students in order to promote cultural exchange. Freely is a student-run, online publication tailored to international students. Its members come from more than 15 countries, and the magazine aims to promote work created by international students at Temple to encourage cultural exchange.

Freely’s event, “Under Two Skies,” explored what it’s like to come from another country and absorb American culture, something many international students deal with.

“You can’t only be one or the other, you combine [them] together,” said Shefa Ahsan, whose photographs of Muslim women were on display. Her work, which placed first in the photography competition,  explored what it’s like to be a woman who identifies as both Muslim and American. Ahsan is a Muslim student and a junior film and media arts major.

Like other Muslim women, Ahsan said she encountered the same experience of dual identities when people started to know her as the “girl with the scarf.”

“There’s not one example of what a Muslim woman looks like,” she said.

Ahsan said she appreciates the chance to show her peers how a Muslim woman struggles to gain her own identity in America.

The Goldilocks Project, a Philadelphia-based jazz band performed at “Under Two Skies” on Thursday. | SIYUN (TIFFANY) AI / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The Goldilocks Project, a Philadelphia-based jazz band performed during the event. Gabe Miller, the singer and violinist, said the band enjoys participating in events like “Under Two Skies” where they can be a part of the international community as representatives of typical American jazz.

Miller, a senior jazz performance major, said jazz blends traditional African-American music, western classical harmony, blues and ragtime.  

“Jazz is sort of a fusion of everything,” he said.

Alex Voisine, Freely’s editor-in-chief, said he hopes the magazine can help make Temple a more global space. He said domestic students and international students can get to know each other’s culture and absorb the aspects from different cultures into their own understanding of their own way of life.

“We are a good example of cultural fusion,” said Voisine, a senior global studies and Spanish major.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Shefa Ahsan and Alex Voisine have previously photographed or written for The Temple News. They had no part in the editing of this story.

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