By Sam Kurland
For the first time, the Stanford International Undergraduate Community (IUC) will offer special excursions for students staying on campus over Thanksgiving Recess.
Planned outings, which are open to both international and American students, include a trip to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom on Monday, Nov. 25 and a Thanksgiving dinner at Thaiphoon, a Thai restaurant on University Avenue, on Wednesday, Nov. 27. Both events have garnered broad interest.
Sebastian Wigstrom ’15, president of the IUC, said he hopes that offering these events will allow the organization to carry a larger presence on campus.
“We’re really trying to ramp it up, and to make a statement that the International Undergraduate Community is really going to be there for people and create these cool events that students can go to,” Wigstrom said.
Jichan Park ’15, chief marketing director of the IUC, said that the Bechtel International Center has tried to host excursions over Thanksgiving break in the past, but has not had high turnout. The IUC hopes to be more successful.
“The IUC leverages its relationship with Stanford students and can reach a wider audience,” Park said. “I think that’s why we got more interest.”
Wigstrom said Thanksgiving is an especially important time to reach out to the international student community.
“We were determined to do something during Thanksgiving because we know that students who stay [on campus] are kind of bored and don’t have a lot of stuff to do,” Wigstrom said. “We’re not with our families or anything, so it seemed like a good idea.”
The IUC’s upcoming events are open to both international and American students because the organization wanted its Thanksgiving offerings to be as inclusive as possible and to bridge the gap between the groups, Wigstrom explained.
The trip to Six Flags is subsidized by the Bechtel International Center and the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU). Participating students will pay $15 for transportation and admission. Without the subsidy, general admission alone without transportation would have cost $62.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 48 out of a total of 55 available seats had been claimed.
Many students have also signed up for Thanksgiving Dinner at Thaiphoon. Park explained the organization’s choice of restaurant.
“[Thaiphoon] was our personal favorite, among the board members,” Park said with a laugh. “It’s good to get off campus, and I think Thanksgiving should be a little more fancy…Thaiphoon] has a nice ambience, and we’re always aiming for international food.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, 55 students had signed up for 30 available seats for the dinner.
“I’m actually a bit surprised that that many people signed up,” Wigstrom said. Students who signed up since the event filled to capacity will be placed on a waiting list.
Support from the Riddle Family Fund through the Bechtel International Center will allow the IUC to cover the cost of the Thaiphoon dinner, which is free to students.
The Riddle Family Fund is intended to promote interaction between American and international students, and so Wigstrom was particularly eager to encourage American students to attend the dinner.
“I think one of the main problems we have is that Americans see that there’s an email from the International Undergraduate Community for an event, and they immediately disregard it because they assume it’s just for internationals, but we’re really trying to reach out everybody,” Wigstrom said.
“We are not trying to be exclusive in any way, shape or form, and all of our events are going to be open to Americans,” he added.
The IUC decided to organize the Six Flags outing based on the results of a survey of student interest. Other destinations that were popular among survey respondents included California’s Great America amusement park, Napa and Sonoma Valleys, San Francisco and Yosemite National Park. Yosemite was nearly as popular as Six Flags among survey respondents, but Wigstrom explained that organizing the trip would have been a challenge.
Contact Sam Kurland at kurlands ‘at’ stanford.edu.