By Alannah Domangue
The area remained quiet while small clusters of people entered. After ten minutes, laughter filled the room as students began mingling with strangers. The occasion Thursday evening was only one of the many events hosted by the International Student Ministry. The event name: Game Night with Internationals. The mission: ministry.
Students gathered in the SUB for fellowship, fun and food. The night began with a couple of icebreaker games followed by a meet-and-greet activity.
Sophomore nursing major Jessica Walker, who serves on the ministry counsel, said the purpose of the festivities was to create “interactions and connections among the students and internationals.”
The International Student Ministry attempts to form friendships and relationships “in a non-awkward way and to show (internationals) the love of Christ,” Walker said.
In previous years the ministry hosted game nights, but not twice in one year. Since last semester’s event proved so successful, the ministry opted to host an additional activity-filled evening.
This semester the turnout exceeded expectations.
Senior Christian ministries major Kristin Mercer said the event was her first game night experience with the internationals. Mercer, who attended the Thanksgiving dinner last fall, said the night had “a lot more interaction. It’s fun to see the way our cultures can interact with one another,” Mercer said.
Graduate student Wendy Lui, who attended previous game nights, has always appreciated the experience.
Lui said interacting during the games gives her a “very good chance to communicate with the American people… and a good chance to practice English.”
Students do not always understand that the game night is for both Americans and internationals.
“It’s both ways,” junior exercise sport science major and ministry leadership counsel member Elizabeth Valcin said.
The International Student Ministry aims “to attract as many international students as possible, but at the same time find Americans (to) interact with the international students,” she said.
Although last semester’s outcome surprised ministry leaders, planning this event did not cease their worries.
The biggest challenge is “getting the word out,” Walker said.
“Advertising and making sure people hear about the event” poses a problem for the group, Valcin said, but their turnout usually surpasses anticipations. “We have plenty of ideas, but it’s hard to schedule around the school’s schedule.”
Although publicizing is difficult, the events always have great results. The ministry’s main goal is “getting the (international) students to know who we are,” Valcin said. “After game night, I feel like a lot of them knew who I was and were able to come up to me and say hi.”
American students will initiate relationships, which allows the internationals to be more interested in the ministry.
Valcin encourages all students to make an effort toward the ministry.
“International students really want to get to know American students. That’s one of the main reasons why they are here, so take the time to say hi to them and get to know them.”
However, the International Student Ministry’s efforts did not end last Thursday.
The students look forward to hosting other events this spring. Walker said the leaders plan to host a Girls and Guys Night Feb. 23 for the internationals and Americans including crafts for the women, and soccer and Whataburger for the men.