Event raises over $1,000 for refugees

Chris Dimeo

Flags of countless countries hung from the walls filling almost every corner of the Honors College and International Center’s multipurpose room with an explosion of color on Thursday night.

Around the room, loud music blasted and people danced, talked and laughed together.

At the Home Away from Home event, members of the International Student Diplomats and the Saudi Student Association led attendees in joke-telling, a country capitals quiz and even a game of musical chairs for the prize of a Big Red bobble head in the name of charity.

Twelve student or international organizations collected over $1,000 in donations to support the International Center of Kentucky’s refugee program.

The International Student Diplomats hosted and organized the event Thursday night. Flavio Chavarri, president of the International Student Diplomats, said this event was a way to help others.

“More than 400 immigrants are coming to Bowling Green, and I see an important opportunity to help all international students,” Chavarri said.

Among the dozen organizations represented were the Saudi Student Association, the Honors College, HOLAS and the International Student Office. Members of each organization encouraged attendees to donate money in the blue box on the organization’s table. At the end of the event, the money from each box was totaled up and the organization that raised the most was recognized.

The Saudi Student Association raised the most money with donations totaling $541. The group, who celebrated Saudi National Day on Tuesday, received an award and the title of Best Charitable Organization, Home Away from Home 2016.

Altogether, the organizations exceeded the initial goal $1,000 by raising a grand total of $1,286, Azadeh Vatanpour, a representative from the Iranian Student Association said.

“We didn’t know that we could accomplish that much,” Vatanpour said.

Representatives of the International Center said they plan to use the money for their daycare program and finding more ways to get the community involved with the refugee program.

For many of the organizations, like the International Center, it was their first time partnering with the Diplomats. However, the representatives from the International Center said they look forward to working with the Diplomats again in the future.

The Diplomats recently changed over to a completely new set of members, Diplomat Daniel Salami said, and this was their first event of the semester.

“We [The Diplomats] are in charge of all international students here at Western Kentucky [University],” Chavarri said. “Our main goal is to give them integration…and help them in other concerns to make Bowling Green their second home.”

Several leaders and representatives gave speeches, including Henry Nottinson, former Founding Chairman of the Council of International Students Organization.

“Why do I do this?” Nottinson said. “Because I love the international community…Like I always say, WKU is a mini-world and it unifies everyone, and WKU is a leading American university with international reach, so it would be nice for all of us to have a taste of it.”

Digital Reporter Chris Dimeo can be reached at 270-745-6288 and [email protected]