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Students mingle, embrace community at ‘Multicultural Mixer’ event

| Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Office of Multicultural Services (OMS) at Saint Mary’s hosted an open house mixer event Monday in its office.

Director of Student Involvement and Multicultural Services Gloria Jenkins said she wants her office to feel like a welcoming space for all students.

“A lot of students are not connecting on campus,” she said. “I want them to know this is a place they can come to meet people, make friends and find a way to get involved on campus. It’s somewhere to hang out.”

Jenkins said her office partners with various student groups and other offices to plan events and programming, including Belles Connect, a pre-orientation program for diverse students. The office also works closely with Student Diversity Board (SDB), she said.

Senior Princess Mae Visconde said she is very involved with the OMS and helped plan the mixer with the intention of fostering community.

“We’ve done [the mixer] in the past and just invited multicultural students, but this time, we opened it to everyone just so everyone can meet one another,” she said.

Visconde said the goal was to help students branch out and make new connections.

“Some students may not know about the office at all, so this gives them the opportunity to get to know the office, Gloria and the people who come here,” Visconde said.

Visconde said she has been a member of SDB the past three years and has worked closely with Jenkins in the past. She said she planned the mixer last year because some students were not connecting with one another on campus and felt lonely.

First year Theresa Bridge she attended the mixer because a friend invited her, and this was her first experience with the OMS.

“[Mixers] help us get to know new students, get involved in the community and meet new people,” she said.

She said she thinks introverted students have a hard time connecting with other students and campus organizations.

“When you’re an introvert, you like to stay in,” Bridge said. “If you put yourself out there, it’s not hard; but for some people, it’s hard out of fear of acceptance.”

Rawia Chaouali, an international student from Tunisia, said she agrees it is harder for introverts to make friends on campus, so extroverts have an easier time.

“For me, I’m social and like to start conversations with whoever and wherever,” she said. “I’ve never felt lonely, actually. Maybe for some other students, it may be hard, though. Clubs are not promoted, or the culture in a club is not that involved.”

Chaouali said she believes clubs and organizations should continue hosting mixers such as this one.

“Events like this are important first of all because of networking,” Chawali said. “Second of all, it gets yourself out of your comfort zone. When you’re busy, you’re not homesick. It’s also fun, and you learn a lot.”

Sophomore Karin Garcia also attended the mixer and said she thinks the OMS is such a good resource for students that she and her friends visit the office frequently.

“It’s such a comfortable environment for us,” she said. “We know there are people of other cultures, so we definitely feel safe and comfortable with other people here. There are snacks, and it feels home-ish.”

Garcia said she hopes people got to know more about the office through the mixer.

“It gets more people to come and meet different people and learn about different cultures,” she said.

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