Cultural organizations provide international students a home away from home

Kayla Smith, with members of JNET.

By Earn Saenmuk

With nearly 9,000 full-time international students enrolled in the University last spring, there is no question that the campus boasts a diverse student body. And, while being away from home in a different environment and culture, students may find it difficult to adapt.

For many students, Quad Day provides the opportunity to explore not only clubs and teams, but also various cultures. Several booths feature cultural clubs to allow students of the same heritage to come together.

Tut Tangtragulcharoen, the president of the Thai Student Association, said the organization allows Thai students who are receiving their education away from home to adjust to their new environment.

Tangtragulcharoen, a senior in Engineering and an international student, said the club has not only helped him meet people who share the same cultural values, but has also given him life-long good friends.

“They are more like my extended family,” Tangtragulcharoen said. “We study together and hang out together a lot.”

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    He added that the organization hosts events and activities throughout the semester, both to promote the Thai culture to those who are unfamiliar with it and also to meet with Thai students.

    Thailand is not the only country that will be represented at Quad Day. Many student organizations encompass minority and ethnic groups, including Asian Americans, African Americans and Native Americans, among others.

    The Asian Pacific American Coalition (APAC) is an organization that brings together 23 Asian American organizations to promote Asian American issues through leadership training and meetings, according to Marc Chua, APAC’s treasurer and junior in LAS.

    “We promote awareness on campus and encourage unity within the Asian American community,” he said. “I really like meeting other Asians and Asian Americans across campus and being able to interact with individuals who have interest. “

    Kayla Smith, senior in LAS, said that because of her interest in East Asian cultures, she has joined several international groups related to them, and that she has found these organizations welcoming to members of other backgrounds as well.

    “I think most of them would welcome foreigners, too,” she said.

    Earn can be reached at [email protected].