International Block Party brings students, cultures together on campus

A map covered with pins from different home nations draws juniors Amelia Broadfoot's and Briana Vaughns's attention. The map was part of the activities set up by the K-State Alumni Association for the 2018 International Block Party on Friday evening. (Rowan Jones | Collegian Media Group)

Campus and local organizations came together to kick off the fall semester with the International Block Party at Bosco Plaza on Friday night.

Jessica Elmore, associate director of diversity programs for the K-State Alumni Association, said she had one simple goal for the evening: to unify a variety of cultures.

The event, put together by the Alumni Association, the Union Program Council and Commerce Bank — among other sponsors — featured activities like soccer darts, mini golf and an international snack bar from 7 to 11 p.m.

International Buddies, one of the event organizers, is an on-campus organization that works with international students to connect them to campus culture by setting them up with domestic students. Kole Wright, senior in modern languages and matching chair of International Buddies, said he views the organization as an opportunity to pay it forward.

Wright’s personal experiences in a foreign exchange program prompted him to get involved with the organization, he said.

“Having a connection with the local people made me feel a lot more welcome, it made the whole thing a lot less stressful,” Wright said. “I want to create a welcoming environment [for international students].”

Gerald Mashange, graduate student in agricultural economics and African Student Union representative, said events like the party play a significant role in the construction of a community for international and domestic students.

Mashange said once when he was leaving a bar in Manhattan, he was confronted with a racial slur.

By joining the African Student Union, Mashange said, one of his primary goals was to educate the Kansas State campus, in addition to the surrounding community, about cultures.

“I just want people to know more about people, to think about us as individuals, not necessarily as a group,” Mashange said. “And just to let people just show who they are by talking, sharing information, sharing food, sharing a story, having conversations.”