Newman University’s Sister Tarcisia Roths, ASC, Alumni Center was bustling with activity on Aug. 29 as approximately 40 international students gathered for a social mixer event.
“An international playlist (curated by Travia Smith) played in the background, refreshments lined the Alumni Center bar top and students chatted at tables, posed for pictures and looked for their home country’s flag — under the watchful direction of the Director of Multicultural Engagement and Campus Life, Katherine Reynoso,” Student Support Specialist Madeline Vardell said.
Nearly 23 paper flags represented the attending students’ home countries.
Of the 44 players on the men’s soccer team, more than half are international students. As such, the entire team and coaches made their debut at 5 p.m. sharp to kick off the international student mixer event.
For senior Isfan Makhmudov, a tennis player from Uzbekistan, the event was a great experience.
“It was great to let people know where you are from and have a nice chat with all internationals,” he said. “Making new friends and connections is helpful because even throughout the year, you see all of these people and help each other out.”
The goal of the event was to bring together international students at Newman and welcome the students into the fall 2023 semester.
“This event was inspired by current international students’ desire for events that spotlight them and foster the international community on Newman’s campus,” Vardell said. “We also wanted to connect international students who might not otherwise meet.”
“I am very excited with the partnership the Runway Learning Center and Student Life is having,” Reynoso said. “Madeline and I are very invested in making sure that the international students feel welcome and have a wonderful experience here at Newman. Some of them come from so far away.”
For Smith, the most rewarding aspect of the event was witnessing the friendships being formed and participating in the camaraderie.
“While we may all come from different countries around the globe, we bonded over having the similarity of being an international student,” Smith said. “I got to learn about new cultures and form newer relationships with the people within the same community as me. It reinforced my belief that as international students, we have to make connections with each other, because nobody gets us, but us.”
Aside from helping Vardell with a Sam’s Club run for snacks and refreshments, Smith posted flyers around campus, helped cut the paper flags of students’ countries and encouraged fellow international students to stop by the event.
“One of my favorite tasks at the event was being on the aux,” Smith said. “I loved seeing the students bump their heads while singing songs that were familiar to them.”
Vardell hopes students left the event feeling “welcomed, cared for and with a new friend or acquaintance.” The event confirmed the students’ desire to see more social events on campus where they can unwind after practice, classes and work.
“We hope this event sets the tone — one of camaraderie and belonging — and leads to further engagement at future campus events,” Vardell said. Students can look forward to future international student mixers once every fall semester and possibly every spring semester.
An international student luncheon will be held Oct. 25 to celebrate international students on campus. This event will be a collaboration between the Multicultural Leadership Organization and the Runway Learning Center.
Explore life at Newman
College life is more than classes, books, tests and residence halls — it’s about connecting with other people, making lifelong friends and future colleagues and building relationships with experienced faculty who can be a resource in your career and your life for years to come.