By Karla Reyna and Sergio Loera
Texas A&M International University is located in the mostly Latino border city of Laredo, TX. As such, TAMIU ranks amongst the highest in Hispanic enrollment among American universities. However, there is more to the “International” in the university’s name than just its location—there are both faculty and students from all over the world attending the school, with numbers increasing by the year. As technology makes our world smaller, and all business is international business, having global connections and knowledge is in high demand. While it is highly recommended that TAMIU students take the opportunity to study abroad, it is not necessary in order to learn about other cultures.
The Association of International Students (AIS)—a campus organization founded in 2008 at TAMIU—offers the opportunity for students to make global connections, open their minds, and learn to think differently. However, even more importantly, it offers not just global connections but global friendships. AIS has two main aims: to connect local and international students, creating a safe environment in which they can learn about and from each others cultures, and to help international students make the most of their time abroad.
Their end goal is to promote cultural awareness and diversity at TAMIU; in stride towards that goal, AIS holds many different events open to all students throughout the year. Some events that were held last semester were International education week, Diwali celebration, and Culture and language lessons hosted by students from Japan, Netherlands, France, among others.
Amongst the most popular are the culture and language lessons; having attended one, the event is not only friendly and educative but also highly up-beat. International students are encouraged to hold a presentation about their favorite aspects of their home country, while local students learn not only small vocabulary but also about popular dances and festivities. At the end of the session, there is a small interactive quiz about the foreign country and four students are chosen as winners and given a prize—mostly food from the country the lesson is about. Once the event is over, AIS members and attendees mingle and chat—all friends disregarding the country they think of as home.
The organization is not just for international students, it is for all TAMIU students—those who have or are interested in studying abroad, those who have never left home yet yearn to learn about the world, and those who are new to Laredo; they are all welcomed warmly. Meetings will begin coming this Spring 2017. You can find the Association of International Students on Facebook at facebook.com/aistamiu where they post both about meetings, events, and opportunities for those who want to begin thinking globally.