The ISSS team is excited to present the ISSS Virtual Community, a series of virtual events designed to engage international students and build community based on a variety of interests. These events will be posted in the UT International Students Facebook Group, a forum for global Longhorns to connect with one another.
Anna Boxall, the program coordinator, says she wants to see more students share their passions outside of their majors and general coursework. With several student organization activities suspended or moved online, Boxall hopes to provide an outlet for students to explore their interests with others.
International graduate student Soham Roy is an active member of the Facebook group, and says the community is a great way to stay in touch with his global peers.
“The value of these activities is to allow international students to participate in or even check out others’ participation in extracurricular activities,” he said. “This can help cheer up everyone during these tough times.”
Saghar Bozorgi, a graduate student from Tehran, participated in Musical Monday and shared a video of her skillfully playing a Persian instrument called the Santur. Bozorgi said she enjoys the freedom of playing for an audience sans the stage fright.
“I think people can choose to participate in such events to have a sense of community, and it might help them build up some motivation to keep up the work,” Bozorgi said. “We all need [support], especially during such times, and we can all help each other with that through virtual events.”
ISSS Virtual Community will host two to three online gatherings each week to support international students who are currently isolated from their campus community. Join the Facebook group and turn on your notifications to see which activities we have planned for you this week!
The themes for each day are as follows:
Show off your musical chops on Musical Monday
Dust off your instruments and create a concert with your fellow international students by posting yourself performing a piece of music. Whether you are a maestro or just starting to learn your scales, this space allows you to express yourself musically with your peers.
Australian exchange student Chiara Cementon attributes her motivation to pick up her guitar and share her talent to ISSS’s prompt.
“I really liked the idea of maintaining the global community,” she said. “I thought it was a brilliant way of actually making me commit to making some music.”
In your posts, don’t forget to introduce yourself and your piece as well as why you chose to perform it.
The next Musical Mondays will be held April 13 and April 27.
Eat and explore on Tasty Tuesday
On Tasty Tuesdays, we will host Facebook Watch parties for culinary videos and learn how to make something new or discover different foods from around the world. Group members are encouraged to post content featuring their own indulgent creations.
The next Tasty Tuesdays will be held April 21 and May 5.
Unwind with Wednesday Art Club
On Wednesdays, we wear paint. Join us for our art club featuring prompts from illustrator Carson Ellis’ Quarantine Art Club blog. We will also run a Facebook Live stream at 3:30 p.m. CST if you want to paint along. Take this opportunity to get your creative juices flowing and brush up on your artistic skills. Share your work by posting it in the Facebook group or on other platforms with #QuarantineArtClub and #ISSS.
The next Wednesday Art Clubs will be held April 22 and May 2.
Relax on Thoughtful Thursday
Things can tend to feel overwhelming during this time, which is why we are organizing Thoughtful Thursdays. Join our sessions to learn more about mindfulness and establishing healthy habits.
Counselor Mike Andorka from UT’s Counseling and Mental Health center is a frequent guest on Thoughtful Thursday, and offers advice on taking care of yourself while staying home.
“Thoughtful Thursdays creates a unique and easy way for students to learn about mental health and wellness outside traditional therapy services,” he said.
Andorka has several tips to foster a sense of normalcy while practicing social distancing. To keep anxieties at bay and tensions low, he recommends establishing a routine, scheduling virtual social activities and being gentle and forgiving with yourself as well as others, among other things. Tune into Thoughtful Thursdays to learn more.
The next Thoughtful Thursday will be held April 30.
Move your muscles on Fitness Friday
Being cooped up all day can be exhausting. Check out our fitness activities and Fitness Friday dance parties to get up and move your body. Follow along with the exercise posted to get your blood pumping. Lace up your running shoes, log into the Facebook Group, and let’s get active!
If you would like to help DJ a Fitness Friday, email coordinator Anna Boxall, who is always on the lookout for internationally-themed dance music.
The next Fitness Fridays will be held April 24 and May 8.
Shake it up on Steppin’ Out Saturday:
Do you miss going out with your friends on the weekends? Join Austin’s own DJ Mel as he brings the party to you every Saturday at 6 p.m. on Facebook Live. Check in to his Living Room Dance Party and bust a move!
Please note: this is not an ISSS-moderated event.
We hope these events and activities help you stay connected and plugged in to the community, and that they offer positive and creative outlets for you to express yourself.
To participate, join the Facebook Group with your UT EID to view activities and updates. If you have any questions or concerns, contact Intercultural Programs Coordinator Anna Boxall. See you at the next virtual event!