While cowboy boots and country music may make most students at the university feel right at home, to some, they’re completely foreign.
The Baptist Student Ministry recently hosted its annual Texas Party to give international students on campus a chance to experience a little more of the culture they now live in.
Students from around the world gathered in Shelton Theatre Sept. 22 to take part in the fun, complete with line dancing and trivia about the Lone Star State.
For some, it was a night of firsts.
Freshman graphic design major Meredith Liu from China said, “It was incredible. It was my first time to learn how to dance a Texas traditional dance. It was very cool, and I made a lot of friends.”
Freshman accounting major Coco Guo said the dancing was not like at home, but she enjoyed it.
“It’s very different from China, more crazy. You can do anything you want to do,” she said.
For others, the event has become a favorite tradition.
This year’s Texas Party was the second for graduate student Kai Zhao, who looked like a natural out on the dance floor in his jeans, cowboy hat, boots and spurs after learning last year at the party.
“That was my first time getting to know Texas Two-Steps. I was shy back then,” he said. “This year made me feel nostalgia. One year has passed so soon.”
Those who planned the event were pleasantly surprised by the turnout.
Sophomore Christian ministry major Madison Prado said, “We couldn’t believe it. At the last minute we brought more food just in case, and we ran out of that food. It was incredible the amount of people we had.”
Prado said all of the feedback she received from those who attended was positive.
“They thought it was so much fun,” she said. “Even the people who were just sitting around, watching and eating some food, they had a blast. They just loved soaking it in.”
The evening is not only a fun way to teach internationals about their new home; it also gives them a chance to make friends.
Sophomore nursing major Jessica Walker said that’s the main idea behind the event.
“The point is to make connections between American students and international students so they can build relationships and show them Jesus Christ,” she said.
Walker helped plan the event and also works with international students at York House on campus. She has enjoyed getting to be involved with them during her time here.
“When I came to college, I didn’t really expect to be doing anything with international students, so just to be able to be around them is awesome, and just learning about their culture,” she said.
Walker hopes that through the BSM’s international events, American students will begin to reach out to internationals.
“If you eat in Hardy, go sit by some international students. If they’re your neighbors, go knock on their door and see how they’re doing. If they’re out playing soccer, go join them,” she said.
Walker said that forming relationships with the students is something believers should take the opportunity to do.
“Everyone’s called to live missionally, and it’s like a country came to us. China, India, they came to us, so it’s just good to get to know them,” she said.
Prado said that by reaching out, American students also have a lot to gain.