Cultured on Campus
Story by Xenia Slabina
Photos by Ashley Collingwood
On Thursday evenings the University of Oregon’s Mills International Center transforms into a venue for The Meet, a weekly social event that hosts different campus organizations from five to seven p.m.
At The Meet Joshi can find people who speak her mother tongue, Hindi.
“Mills is also another step to keeping closer to my culture and understanding other people’s cultures, it is nice just being around that global environment,” Joshi says.
The Mills Center Associate Coordinator, Sara Clark, says there is a high demand for weekly socials,
“The Mills Center is funded by student fees, so it’s truly opened to all students because we want to promote that cross-cultural exchange.”
The Meet strives to create a small, intimate atmosphere; everyone can have a seat, and feel more relaxed and acknowledged. Wearing the offered name badges visually help those who attend remember others names, and the ice breaking activities at the beginning of the meeting create a friendly atmosphere that facilitates interaction and encourages students to learn about each other.
Koki Nakada, Junior UO student, thinks attending The Meet is a great way to make new friends, “Here there are people from European countries and a lot of American students. I can make even more friends and talk to people from campus organizations.”
Students are not only fond of mingling, but tasting the delicious food. Every week The Meet offers a different cultural cuisine provided by University catering. This Thursday students feasted on Hawaiian fare with Potato mac salad, Shoyu chicken and tofu, short grain rice, salad and Haupia coconut milk pudding.
The Meet is sponsored by the ASUO through the Big Ideas Over-Realized fund. It began last year when the Mills’ program managers and staff started introducing students to various campus organizations and activities. Clark and Joshi said this year is a “pilot” year for The Meet.
“It’s still an experiment, we’re trying to figure out what students
want and how this works best,” Joshi says.
To Clark, students feel comfortable at the event. Even when the Mills Center unexpectedly lost electricity in the midst of their second meeting, many students stayed and enjoyed themselves.
“The goal was to allow people to meet someone new and connect with those from different cultures. So we created an event that we felt would do that, “ Clark says.