Students gathered on the UC Patio on Wednesday afternoon for COISO’s first-ever Philanthropy Day. The event was part of the organization’s annual International Week and its aim was to bring students and different philanthropic organizations on campus together in order to raise awareness on global issues.
COISO, an umbrella organization representing more than 30 cultural organizations on campus, holds I-week every year in order to provide international students with an opportunity to share their culture with the rest of the UM community. I-week was born out of a desire to tie all the different cultures represented by COISO together.
“We found out that many organizations under COISO weren’t just about cultural awareness, but were also interested in promoting awareness of certain issues involving their countries and in serving the international community,” Angela Reyes, president-elect of COISO, said.
Philanthropy Day took the place of COISO’s Hometown USA Day, an I-week event that celebrated American culture, food, and music. Due to a characteristic lack of attendance over the past years, COISO President Julia Gonzalez decided it was time for I-week to move in a different direction.
“[COISO] wanted to provide an opportunity to show students the different issues going on in the world and to showcase the campus organizations that are doing something about [these issues],” Gonzalez, a senior, said.
Each of the 17 organizations participating in Philanthropy Day had a booth set up on the UC Patio which informed onlookers about the organization in general and the cause it represented. These causes included global recycling, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the recruitment of children in armed conflicts in Africa, among others.
Each booth at the event contained an interactive element that was meant to give the students a deeper, hands-on understanding of the cause it embodied. Activities included a “Family Feud” game about recycling hosted by Earth Alert and a life-sized replica of a typical Haitian hut built by members of Rotaract.
Students from the music school also lent their talents to the event’s cause by holding several musical performances throughout the afternoon.
“[The organizers] are trying to make [the event] more than just a tabling experience, we want [the students] to actually have something to do when they get [to the booths] and we want to shock [the students] in some way,” Johweyeh Lowenthal, Philanthropy Day co-chair, said.
In an admitted attempt to attract students, the event organizers advertised free food and raffle giveaways as part of Philanthropy Day. However, in order for students to be able to participate in the raffle and receive the food, they had to visit at least one of the participating organization’s tables and take part in a learning activity. In return for their involvement, students were given a colored slip of paper listing a fact about a the organization’s cause which needed to be presented to receive food or a raffle ticket.
Other I-week events this week included cultural appreciation days including Middle Eastern Day, European Day, Latin Day, Asia Day, and Africa Day. The week will conclude with a banquet and awards ceremony on Friday evening.
Marina Nazir can be contacted at email@example.com