Some tried and proven events you might want to offer:
- Hold a Friday night spaghetti dinner at someone’s apartment just off-campus. Ask all of your American friends to invite one international to come along with them to your dinner. After dinner, you might try to play a game of “Uno” or “Taboo.” If you have more than 10 people it might be a good idea to use nametags.
- Organize a Christmas dinner. All you need to do is put together a meal, followed by some sort of game, and finally an explanation of the true meaning of Christmas. Decorating a small Christmas tree and giving of some simple gifts can round out the evening.
- Sponsor a ladies’ tea party with a guest speaker discussing “God’s View of Beauty.” Tea, cookies, informal conversation and a guest speaker are all that’s needed. A church social hall in walking distance to your campus would be a nice venue to for this event. If you arrange such a convenient location, the wives of graduate students can attend during the day while their husbands are on campus studying or doing research.
- Try hosting a square dance party. Many internationals are curious about American customs and pastimes. If you can find a square dance caller and a place to meet, all you need is some pizza and you’re on your way! Make sure your caller is prepared to teach rookies and to speak as clearly as possible.
- Offer a picnic during warm weather months—especially on or near a holiday like Memorial Day, Independence Day or Labor Day. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and watermelon should satisfy the appetites, while games like volleyball, croquet, softball or soccer may create an environment for friendships to form. (Note: if you anticipate guests from Muslim backgrounds, serve only beef hotdogs, and tell them you are doing so. If you expect guests from Hindu backgrounds, you may want to offer vegetable or pasta dishes.)
- Hold a game night where Americans and internationals can interact over games like “Monopoly,” “Risk” or “Settlers of Catan.” You may need to remind your staff and volunteers—or yourself—that the objective on this occasion is to make friends, not rule the world!
- Sponsor an all-nations potluck—where internationals from various countries can bring their favorite dishes, or hold a dinner that features a special international dish, for example “jiaozi” (dumplings) from China. If the former, ask everyone to bring the food already cooked. If the latter, you may want to ask people to join together in preparing the food. It is always fun to watch Chinese teach Americans or other internationals how to make jiaozi.