Sometimes, people don’t intend to isolate themselves from others who are similar to them, but end up doing so because they have never come across a platform for them to start building bridges that connect them with other people. The Global Get-together on 21 September 2010, organised by SRO, aimed to provide that platform to help international non-exchange students build a bridge connecting them to the rapidly growing international student body at CityU.

During the second semester of my first year, just when I was wondering whether or not there would ever be an event targeted only at international non-exchange students, there came an e-mail promoting the Global Get-together. I was inspired by the event, and it spurred me to create and run the Facebook group “City University Non-Local Students”, catering to all international non-exchange students. It also gave me the determination to co-organise this year’s Global Get-together with Ashwathi Kumar and Brian Isaacs, when I was approached by SRO’s Supervisory Executive Officer Ms. Esther Lee.

Reaching out to all the international students was a challenge because, although we are not big in numbers, we are still scattered across different social circles. So instead of just using e-mails this time, we employed other methods, such as Facebook event invitations, approaching random students who look like international students (a little bit discriminatory, I know) and even a stakeout at Homey Kitchen.

This year’s gathering was particularly inspiring, not just because of the number of people who showed up (over half of the 70 international students staying in the Student Residence came to the event), but also because of the conversations that took place and the relationships that came out from it. Knowing that a lot of people showed up just to meet other international students, we tried to keep the formalities to a minimum. Even the ice-breakers were meant to provide conversation starters. Hopping from one conversation to another, I heard people’s intentions to organise more events catering to international students, people volunteering to help fund-raising for the Pakistani flood-affected victims, and much more. Weeks after the event, I still see people hanging out together who might not have met, if not for the event.

Relationships such as these are like bridges, leading to endless opportunities. All that is needed is a platform to serve as a foundation to build them on. Knowing that we’ve played a part in the process is enough to motivate us to continue our efforts to bring the international community in CityU Student Residence closer together.