Saturday morning in Lampkin Park, Bridges International, an organization dedicated to serving and connecting with international students, held a feast.
Bridges International planned a day of outdoor activities, fellowship and bonding for both international students and American students.
“We just want to see relationships built, that is the whole point of this event today,” Bridges’ leadership team member Katie Kraft said. “[It’s] just to promote inclusion and diversity in Bowling Green.”
Tim Stover, a member of the leadership team, shared what he believed the importance of the event was.
“I approached a guy earlier this semester, I was like, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ I just started talking to him,” Stover said. “He was from the Middle East. ‘You know, when you came up to me I thought you were going to tell me to go back to my country….’ It really broke my heart. We wanted to have an event where we could invite international students and really make them feel welcome and let them know we love them [and] we care about them.”
The event’s focus was to provide international students with a good meal and engaging conversations. To show international students that they are not only welcomed on campus but also in Bowling Green’s community, Bridges partnered with local businesses to provide care packages for students.
“We partnered with businesses in the local community, and we have these little gift bags for everyone,” senior Elizabeth Trader, another member of the Bridges leadership team, said. “That’s the other aspect of this, we want them to know that the community as a whole of Bowling Green is welcoming them here. It’s not just students, it’s Bowling Green [that] wants them here.”
The Bridges team aims to build relationships with international students and also share their Christian faith. The organization dedicates itself to what they refer to as the three S’s: social, spiritual and service.
“That’s why we’re on campus, for those three things,” Kraft said. “[We] provide a social atmosphere for international students … Just to hang out and make friends. We provide free spiritual conversations where they can ask about different beliefs in the United States … We just want to be of service to them.”
Anna Zaitseva, an international student from Moscow, shared how Bridges has impacted her experience in America.
“I’ve met all of these wonderful people … They are super supportive, and I think that I am very blessed having them as my friends. [This is] a great movement for people who want to connect to God. It’s not only about friendship. It’s about helping me see things differently,” Zaitseva said.
Bridges International meets every Wednesday in the Honors College and International Center room 3001 at 11 a.m. Weekly meetings are opportunities to socialize and have discussions on theology. Throughout the year they plan on hosting more events that continue to promote inclusion and diversity.
Reporter Laurel Deppen can be reached at (270)745-2655 and [email protected]