The Bechtel International Center’s screenings of the 2018 Russia FIFA World Cup draw community members from around the world interested in soccer. Part of a 32-year-old tradition at Bechtel, the screenings provide fans with a venue to share their passion and learn more about the game.
According to Bechtel Associate Dean and Associate Director Elsa Gontrum, Bechtel has an advantage on campus for being known as the hub for international activity. Because of this, student groups contact the center to reserve rooms for World Cup screenings.
The Colombia Student Association is one group that has been in contact with Bechtel to use the center to watch Columbia’s World Cup matches. CSA treasurer and civil and environmental engineering Ph.D. student Francisco Galvis said his organization uses events like these screenings to rally people together and create opportunities for Stanford Colombians to spend time with their compatriots.
“This is a very great opportunity because it’s a chance to gather with all the Colombians who are here in the summer,” Galvis said. “In South America, in general, soccer is a very good reason to get together and feel in a certain way the love for your country.”
Galvis also said he enjoys using the spaces because it allows him to show people from other countries how Colombians watch soccer and share soccer-related experiences.
“Not only people from Colombia come,” Galvis said. “I’m sure that maybe a quarter or a third of the people who are already inside are not from Colombia — they’re from other places watching the game.”
Management science and engineering Ph.D. student Giovanni Malloy is a friend of Galvis and has been coming out to cheer for Colombia, despite not knowing a lot about soccer.
“[I’ve been] learning a lot about the game — a little bit about the different styles of play, who the important players are and how those players fit into the general soccer culture,” Malloy said.
The soccer spectators and Bechtel organizers agree that the value of the watching parties is in the experiences shared with others who have the same passion for soccer.
“Every time there is a game, you want to watch and experience it,” Galvis said. “The best way is to experience it [is] with people that are also passionate about it.”
Assistant Advisor and Building Coordinator Sean Stafford, who watches the soccer games on television during his lunch break, said that there is always a good atmosphere in the assembly room.
Gontrum believes that the community comes together over a shared love of soccer, despite some being from different countries.
“We think it’s high drama and a celebration of the world’s diversity,” Gontrum said. “We love doing this for the Stanford community because, for us, this represents all that we hold dear about the work we do … that the world can find common ground even if it’s in the love of this simple artful game.”
Bechtel will be screening the World Cup’s semi-final matches of France vs. Belgium on Tuesday and England vs. Croatia on Wednesday.
Contact Gianella Ordonez at gordonez493 ‘at’ student.fuhsd.org.