Screaming international students set the tone for a prize-winning photo contest at the UMC Friday afternoon.
Hundreds of caffeine-infused students, many bilingual, cast their votes by howling across the dining hall at CU International’s most recent weekly coffee hour.
“Basically, we go through the photos on-screen and ask the audience to scream out,” said Kush Shah, 23, a club member and graduate student studying telecommunications. “We choose a winner by reading our decimal meters.”
CU International hosts the mixer for foreign exchange, study abroad and other students curious about world cultures or meeting people 4-5:30 p.m. every Friday across from the Alferd Packer Restaurant and Grill. The event culminates in drawings and contests for prizes, which stir the crowd’s buzzing energy.
Bin Cao, a senior majoring in chemical engineering and president of CU International, said that after first arriving in Boulder, the meetings put on by the club introduced him to a community he hadn’t thought he could find at CU.
“These events have always provided a platform for international students to meet and talk about their lives and to understand why what they’ve learned outside the states matters,” said Cao, 22.
CU International also organizes campus tours and social events for foreign students to meet during Welcome Week. The club eats out on weekly dinner trips and also hikes, dances and skis together.
International Coffee Hour costs $180 dollars to pull off, paid to the UMC for covering the cost of coffee and cookies. Prizes are typically donated, and volunteers from CU International direct the event.
Sarah Navidi, a senior in the Elementary School Teaching Program, signs people in to the coffee hours, directs them to name tags and acts as an onstage announcer for special events, such as the photo contest held Friday.
“It’s really a way to help foreign students adjust to life here, which can be difficult when you come to the U.S. alone, or don’t know anyone with a background like yours,” said Navidi, 22.
Navidi and Shah said they’re thankful that International Coffee Hour has been successful because it not only attracts a diversity audience, it also allows invisible cultures to find some exposure.
Larry Bell, CU’s executive director of international education, has watched CU International grow in recent years into an organization that he said offers more than just free coffee.
“This club has become an important part of life for CU’s international community,” Bell said. “Before, it was much harder for them to find U.S. students to interact with.”
The Office of International Education, the CU Parents Association and UMC administration sponsor International Coffee Hour, which is open to non-CU students as well, every Friday throughout fall and spring semesters.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Gabriel Larsen-Santos at Gabriel.email@example.com.