Hundreds of incoming international students mingled with American students at the inaugural University of Iowa International Welcome Night on Sunday evening.
Students gathered on the Pentacrest on Sunday night to play Frisbee and soccer, eat frozen yogurt and meet on the first night of orientation.
Joelle Brown, a 22-year-old senior majoring in political science and journalism & mass communication, said she started the event after she was asked to speak at orientation about how to build American friendships.
“That just seems like something you do, not talk about,” she said.
While volunteering in China, Brown said Chinese students were “so welcoming” to her, but she saw a need for similar hospitality in Iowa.
Brown said she used her connections made through working with UI Student Government to find student organizations and funding through International Programs to host International Welcome Night.
She hosted it on the Pentacrest to give a true UI student experience, she said.
“What should we do on a summer night? Hang out on the Pentacrest, which is such a University of Iowa thing to do, and get ice cream, which I think is just, I mean, while I was in China I ate a lot of ice cream so I think everyone likes it,” she said.
Brown said she hopes to make it an annual event.
Fei Yifei Li, 22, a senior from Shenzhen, China, studying journalism & mass communication and business, said she thinks the event is “awesome.”
“I am an international student, so I’m really excited to see the diversity here and everyone to mix,” she said. “Everyone is having a good time. I’m helping by handing out ice cream and Yotopia coupons, so I guess that’s why everybody loves me.”
Jon Smith, a 20-year-old UI junior from York, England, said he came to the university because his friends recommended it and he liked the look of the campus online.
“It’s really great,” he said of the event. “Everyone has been really friendly.”
Meg Taylor, a 20-year-old UI junior also from York, said her experience in Iowa City so far has been “lovely.”
“It’s been really lovely just to meet everybody. They’re all so friendly and nice,” she said.