Days for international students: Game Time and Global Thursday

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Graphic by Kayla Roberts.

Every week, UNLV hosts many events where students can learn new things and establish new relationships, ranging from cultural and arts-focused to educational and academic. As one of the country’s most diverse universities, UNLV also offers a wide variety of activities for international students, among which Game Time and Global Thursday stand out each week for bringing together students from different cultures.

These two events are significant for international students, as they provide an opportunity to improve their English skills while bonding with the campus and making friends. Game Time, held every Wednesday, makes practicing English with games and various activities enjoyable, while Global Thursday, held on Thursdays, creates an environment where students can exchange information between different cultures while speaking English.

Diane Devrow, a tutor at Game Time, explains the goal of this event, saying that, “Game Time was created with the intention of building a community, especially for international and multilingual students. Whether a student speaks English as their first language or as an additional language, Game Time is a safe space for students to get to know each other and make mistakes.”

Students who want to interact with the campus community while improving their English skills come together at Game Time every week and play various games such as Jenga and Bingo.

Meryem Misal Cengiz, a UNLV student, shares her experience about Game Time, saying, “Joining Game Time on Wednesdays is always a fun experience for me. I love meeting new people and talking with them every week. Also, while playing fun games, I get to practice my English skills. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to make new friends, enjoys playing games, and wants to practice English.” She also adds that, “Our tutors who attend the Game Time are very friendly and kind.”

Devrow emphasizes that they strive to make the games at Game Time both enjoyable and educational, stating, “At each event, we will play a different game that is both fun and educational. The games that we offer at Game Time have an additional purpose of engaging students in conversations to help with speaking practice.”

Once again, she emphasizes the purpose and feature of this event, “‘Game Time’ provides a comfortable environment for students to express their thoughts and win prizes. It’s a great place to meet people from all over the world and try snacks from different cultures.”

Devrow states that Game Time is a great opportunity, especially for international students, but anyone interested in making new friends and getting to know new cultures while playing games is more than welcome to participate. “‘Game Time’ is open to all UNLV students, and the purpose is to make friends and help international and multilingual students trying to enhance their English language skills!”

Another event organized by UNLV for both those who enjoy getting to know different cultures and international students is Global Thursday. 

Lindsey Gruber, the Executive Director of the International Student and Scholar Services, says, “International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) started Global Thursday in the Fall 2023 semester as a part of our new Global Ambassador Program. While the Global Ambassador Program serves to connect new international students with resources, information and relationship-building opportunities to help them thrive in their first year, Global Thursday is a space to bring together all UNLV students who are eager to share their own culture or learn about other cultures represented at UNLV.” She adds, “This is a space where all students can share, learn and make new friends. Starting in the Spring 2024 semester, ISSS is collaborating with the Office of Student Diversity Programs to host Global Thursday events in the Student Diversity Programs Lounge and to promote this cultural offering to a wider audience. We can accomplish more together and provide more cultural programming for the UNLV community, which is very exciting.”

When asked about how a Global Thursday typically unfolds, Gruber explains, “The event is informal and friendly. We usually start with refreshments, making introductions and maybe playing an icebreaker game to get students connecting with each other. Then, we break up into smaller groups for discussion or activities. During ‘Culture and Conversation’ the discussion is based around a cultural topic of interest, such as celebrating the Lunar New Year most recently. Or for the ‘Language Exchange Program,’ we have student representatives who teach us a bit of a new language, such as Vietnamese, Persian, Arabic or Mandarin as a ‘taster’ language experience. The main goal, regardless of the week or topic, is for students to share with each other a little of their unique background and to be exposed to other cultures and languages.”

Gruber says that UNLV has about 1,000 international students from all over the world and shares her thoughts on this. “These students bring a wealth of experience, knowledge, and new perspectives to our campus. It is our hope that the Global Thursday events amplify these diverse voices and allow the whole campus to learn from these amazing individuals who have chosen UNLV for their higher education journey. We welcome everyone to join and believe that everyone has something to share and something to gain from these events.”

Many UNLV students participate in Game Time and Global Thursday events every week to share their cultures, languages, and stories, as well as to improve their English skills and connect with new people and the campus community.

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