International Student Org Brings Community Together

International Student Org Brings Community Together

On any college campus you will find students grabbing coffee between classes to fuel them through the day. But at the University of San Diego, you might find yourself sipping arabic coffee, chatting with a student from Spain, while listening to another plucking the "oud" (a distant ancestor of the guitar).

Once a week, USD's International Student Organization (ISO) warmly welcomes the community to join them for coffee breaks. Those present create a friendly environment to share stories, information, and make new connections. The coffee hour is held during "dead hours" (typically noon to 2:15 p.m.) on Thursdays in the ISO Lounge, which is located in Student Life Pavilion, Room 422.

The ISO is one of USD’s most prominent groups on campus and upholds the school’s vision, mission, and values through community involvement and appreciation for all. For over 25 years, the ISO has welcomed students and scholars from more than 85 countries to USD’s beautiful campus and the city of San Diego. Through the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS), those seeking to study here are able to live and learn in a new environment.

The OISS facilitates “intellectually challenging, culturally enriching, and personally enjoyable” experiences, and is home to many groups, including the ISO, the International Orientation Team (IOT), and an International Buddy Program, where both foreign and domestic students can get involved. Everyone in the OISS works hard to help those coming to a new school and country and enjoy a bond that international students in all programs can share. The undergraduate, graduate, and exchange students make up over half of the international population at USD and are a valued part of the community.

Greg Grassi, OISS associate director and USD alumnus, speaks highly of the groups he advises, as both ISO and IOT are “open, free communities for any student to connect with others from their regions, or new ones. Domestic students who have studied abroad or want to keep up their international connections may attend to continue their experience.“ 

Elected students serve as board members for the ISO to plan events and to help others have the best experience possible while studying in San Diego. Lucero Chavez and Davide De Carle serve as ISO's president and vice president, respectively. Pre-law student Edoardo Amari studies political science and international business, and is a member of the ISO Board as the Culinary Coordinator. He helps to organize dinners locally for students to experience different cuisines and cultures. "I joined ISO because I really felt that it could be a home away from home for me... our coffee hours create this dialogue and atmosphere where students can share their feelings, ideas or interests with others in the international community."

What may be the organization’s most popular event is also a space for any student to meet new people and engage the USD community. Grassi and attendees note that the coffee hours are "always casual, people come for five minutes or thirty, a few times or every week," and they are a great way for anyone wanting to meet more people on campus to do so. 

ISO hosts many events, including off-campus dinners, the International Expo and Fashion Show and special coffee hours, which feature cultural foods from all over the world. The 32nd annual ISO Expo and Fashion Show, which takes place March 24 from 7-10 p.m. in the UC Forums, features students modeling traditional clothing from numerous countries, special musical performances and serves an array of delicious foods from the many countries represented. The show is the largest event held by the ISO and is highly recommended by all who have attended.

To learn about more events through the ISO, go to the International Student Blog or visit the International Center in Serra Hall, Room 201. 

— Abigail Lombardo '17

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