For anyone coming to college for the first time, the task of making friends and joining a community can be daunting. This is especially true for students coming from outside the continental U.S., who may not know a single person when first arriving on campus.
“Oh yeah, it can be super intimidating,” says Jovi Valencia, a senior Philosophy major from Waimea, Hawaii. “However,” he adds, “don’t let that stop you from reaching out. Everyone on campus is so welcoming and open.”
Jovi is speaking from experience. When he first got to campus he was reticent to attend Pacific Islander Club (PIC) events, but after his first experience he wished that he had meet up with the Club sooner.
“At first I didn’t go, but after a while I just came and hung out and everyone was super welcoming.” Now, in his final year at PSU, Jovi is on the Board of PIC and supports many different cultural centers on campus by attending events and meetups.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from if you want to get involved with a cultural club or organization on campus. If you click, you click, it’s that simple.”
The Cultural Resource Centers on campus serve not only as a place where students can interact with their peers, but also as a platform to help inform the population on campus about social issues that are important to each specific organization.
“It’s definitely about community awareness. Whether it be through talks, panels or culture shows, each club is passionate about letting people know about what’s important to them and their culture.”
One such piece of community awareness is coming up soon. The Pacific Islander’s Club, of which Jovi is a member, is putting on its Lu’au this Saturday, an annual tradition which is in its 15th year.
“It’s going to be great and is definitely our biggest event of the year. There’s gonna be lots of representation from many different cultures along the Pacific Rim, including lots of traditional dance, song, and good food.”
Jovi’s advice to students looking to get involved?
“Just come and hang out, you’re sure to find a group that you connect with. There really is something for everybody here, regardless of where you’re from.”