Sophomore Hope Hua got involved in the Committee on International Student Organizations (COISO) in a round-about way. It started two years ago with a plane ride.
Before she was a student at UM, Hua was visiting family in China in the summer of 2011 when she met UM study abroad students on her flight. They exchanged names and kept in contact through Facebook.
A few months later as a newly enrolled freshman, Hua was at CaneFest when she heard someone calling her name. She turned and saw Alex Kurtz, one of the students she had met on the flight. Kurtz, who was president of COISO at the time, encouraged her to join, and she agreed to take a cabinet post.
“I feel like joining COISO was definitely meant to be,” said Hua, a neuroscience major.
Hua is the current chair of COISO’s International Week, which begins Monday. This year’s theme for the week is “The Kid in U: Growing Up Around the World.”
Hua was chosen to be International Week chair through an internal application process.
“We’d seen her leadership in the past and based on her application, her resume and interview, we chose her as International Week chair,” said senior Hong-Uyen Hua, president of COISO. The two are not related.
Hua grew up outside of St. Louis, which she said lacks the cultural diversity she sees now.
“There’s so much diversity on this campus, it’s crazy,” she said. “I think that’s one of the great things UM has to offer.”
One of the largest student organizations on campus, COISO was founded in 1967 to represent the interests of UM’s international students, help them integrate into campus life and provide an avenue for cultural and social activities.
All international students are automatically members of COISO, but anyone can join and participate in meetings and events to experience the culture of students from more than 100 countries.
Through COISO, Hua said she has met students from all around the world, including a Jamaican student who fluently speaks Chinese.
“It’s interesting meeting people from all these different countries and realizing that everyone is linked in this one web,” Hua said.
Though it’s not always easy to find the time, Hua is passionate about her work with COISO as a cabinet member, a chair of volunteer committee and former international dance competition chair. She manages all of these roles on top of her schedule as a pre-med student with a research job on campus.
“My passion and my drive of loving COISO get me through it,” she said. “And I make sure I find time to balance everything.”
Hua has found inspiration from a close friend in high school, who always gives his all in everything he does, and also Hong-Uyen Hua.
“The president of COISO is somebody else who’s definitely inspired me to push myself even further and put myself out there and believe in myself,” Hua said. “Before college, I wasn’t too confident in my abilities.”
Hong-Uyen Hua said that she has known Hope since her freshman year, and she has been a hard worker right from the start.
“I saw so much potential in her,” Hong-Uyen Hua said. “And this year she’s definitely stepped up to the plate and gone above and beyond in each of her leadership experiences. I only see great things for her in the future.”
If you go:
What: International Week, featuring free cultural games, snacks and activities
Where: The Rock
When: 7 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday
4 Monday – Africa, Middle East, Europe
4 Tuesday – Latin America, Caribbean
4 Wednesday – Island Styles
4 Thursday – Asia
4 Friday – I-Week Concert (7 p.m. Foote Green)
4 Saturday – COISO banquet (6:30 p.m. Newman Alumni Center)