Global Engagement Lounge

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Global Engagement Lounge (GEL) is a unique place where you can meet other international and domestic students, representatives from campus units, academic advisors, and members from RSOs to enjoy interactive activities and transform your Illinois experience. All are welcome!

Paid for by the Student Cultural Programming Fee. All events take place on Wednesdays from 5:30-7:00 pm at the Asian American Cultural Center/International Education, 1210 West Nevada Street, Urbana (unless indicated otherwise).

Past Calendars

Spring 2024

January 31: Dealing with Homesickness in College

The Counseling Center staff will discuss the causes of homesickness and the impact that homesickness has on college students’ mental health and share resources. More importantly, strategies to cope with homesickness and cultural considerations will be explored, with group activities. Cosponsored by International Education, Counseling Center, ISSS and AACC.

February 14:  Healthy Heart Valentine’s Day Special

February is American Heart Month. Do you ever wonder what your heart rate means for your health; what some languages of love around the world are; and or how you can practice self-care? Come join McKinley Health Education for interactive opportunities to learn about tools and resources toward a healthy heart and take a break to connect, smile, laugh, and release stress! Hands-on heart craft-making will be offered as well. Dinner is provided. Co-sponsored by International Education, McKinley Health Center, ISSS and AACC.

March 6: International Women’s Day Celebration @ Latzer Hall at the University Y, 1001 S. Wright St. Champaign  

Cosponsored by International Education, DSJE, WRC, University Y and ISSS

March 20: Mythbusting Nutrition Misinformation

Join McKinley's Nutrition Peers as we debunk long standing nutrition and food myths! Is fruit high in sugar? Is the cholesterol in eggs bad for your health? Learn with us as we discuss the facts and make fresh pasta, chicken, and egg salad for the audience to enjoy! Dinner provided. 

Co-sponsored by International Education, McKinley Health Center, ISSS and AACC 

March 27: Cultural Connection Through Music 

Music is a powerful tool. It has the power to bring people together, to bridge cultural divides, and has the ability to transcend language barriers. It connects people from different backgrounds and cultures through the universal language of sound. The Counseling Center staff invites you to a musical evening to discuss the impact music has in bringing cultures together, in turn, impacting your mental health. Cosponsored by International Education, Counseling Center, ISSS and AACC. 

April 3: Dating in a Digital World

Join the Women’s Resources Center and UIPD (and K9 Huff) to discuss tips and tricks for dating safety. Together we’ll learn how dating online can be safe and fun but also what to do if (when) it feels scary! Participants will engage in Interactive activities with real life scenarios. Cosponsored by International Education, WRC, UIPD, ISSS and AACC. 

Fall 2023

September 6: American Slang

What are some of the latest slang expressions and idioms in English?  Have a hard time understanding conversations because of slang? Come to this interactive workshop and learn more about American idiomatic expressions. Share experiences and learn new phrases from experienced instructors of the Intensive English Institute to make your conversational English more native-speaker like!  Cosponsored by Intensive English Institute, International Education, AAACC and ISSS. 

September 13: Short-Term Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs

Learn more about the short-term study abroad opportunities from Illinois Abroad and Global Exchange (IAGE). Customized short-term programs are Illinois courses that are led and taught by either Illinois faculty or professional staff. Traditionally, these programs are brief in duration and take place during academic breaks (e.g., winter break, spring break, and summer). Cosponsored by International Education, IAGE, AACC and ISSS.

October 11: Graduate Student Appreciation Night 

Come join us to show our appreciation for graduate students at the University of Illinois, with interactive activities and an appreciation dinner! Cosponsored by International Education, Graduate College, AACC and ISSS.

October 18: The Power of Community Building

We all like to belong and feel connected, it’s human nature!  Success rarely occurs in silos, nor is fulfillment in life in isolation. How do you create a good community you can engage with, contribute to, and cherish while increasing self-awareness, finding new opportunities, and learning about others? The Counseling Center staff will lead a discussion to get you started on your journey of success through community building.  Cosponsored by International Education, the Counseling Center, ISSS and AACC.

October 25: American Dating Slang

Join us during Domestic Violence Awareness Month to learn more about common dating terms and slang used in the US and behaviors of healthy/unhealthy relationships. Co-sponsored by International Education, Women's Resources Center, ISSS and AACC.

November 1: Debunking Diet Fads

Misinformation is everywhere in nutrition! Join McKinley Health Center’s Nutrition Peers to learn fact from fiction on popular fad diets like intermittent fasting, keto, and more! Co-sponsored by International Education, McKinley Health Center, ISSS and AACC.

November 29: Navigating American Service Culture: To Tip or Not To Tip?  

Have you wondered how tipping (also called gratuity) works in the US? And why is tipping so ingrained in its culture? Most countries have tips either built into the bill or are not expected, however, in the US, it is a common practice; and tipping is necessary as many RELY on tips to make their wages. If you are confused like others, come to discuss your experience and the counseling staff will demystify some myths. Co-sponsored by International Education, the Counseling Center, ISSS and AACC.

December 6: Finals Week Snack for Success (5-7:30pm at SDRP)

You’ve got this! Finish the semester strong with some international snacks and drinks at SDRP. Cosponsored by International Education, McKinley Health Center, ISSS and AACC.

Spring 2023

February 1: American Work Culture: Preparing for and Thriving in the Workplace

In this workshop, Dr. Pankaj Desai - the Assistant Director for International Student Career Development at The Career Center will discuss strategies to prepare for and thrive in the U.S. workplace. Participants will be introduced to the broad contours of the American work culture and the stereotypes that exist around such a work culture. Participants would also be invited to share their understanding of the differences between the work cultures of the U.S. and their country of origin. This workshop aims to facilitate an enriched understanding of the U.S. work culture and assist the participants in the navigation of intercultural differences to be able to thrive in the American workplace. Cosponsored by International Education, The Career Center and International Student and Scholar Services.

February 8: American Slang

What are some of the latest slang expressions and idioms in English?  Have a hard time understanding conversations because of slang? Come to this interactive workshop and learn more about American idiomatic expressions. Share experiences and learn new phrases from experienced instructors of the Intensive English Institute to make your conversational English more native-speaker like!  Cosponsored by Intensive English Institute, International Education, and International Student and Scholar Services. 

February 15: Relationships and Navigating Associated Challenges

A crucial part of the experience of attending higher education is the friendships, relationships, and camaraderie developed during college life. These relationships are not always stories of fairy tales and unicorns, but come with colossal expectations and challenges. We will delve into various forms of relationships, share some insights on navigating them, and enjoy forging new ones after Valentine’s Day. Cosponsored by The Counseling Center, International Education, Asian American Cultural Center and International Student and Scholar Services.

March 8: International Women’s Day

Join us celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) featuring IWD artwork, which highlights women’s achievements, experiences and resilience around the world! Top awards to winners will be announced during the event. Cosponsored by International Education, Women’s Resources Center and International Student and Scholar Services. 

April 5: Easy and Affordable Ways to Increase Your Daily Protein

Come learn from the McKinley nutrition staff about easy, affordable, and quick ways to ensure you are getting the right amount of protein you need daily. Cosponsored by the McKinley Health Center, International Education, and International Student and Scholar Services.

April 12: Self-Care and Self-Empowerment

Students from all walks of life experience difficulties that can lead to excessive stress and other adverse effects. As a result, students’ performance (academic, social, and much more) deteriorates. Self-care becomes a necessity to overcome these hurdles and transform the student from a position of difficulty to a position of empowerment. Counseling Center staff will share some practical, hands-on exercises of self-care that can also become tools for self-empowerment.  Cosponsored by the Counseling Center, International Education, Asian American Cultural Center and International Student and Scholar Services.

April 19: Consent Across Cultures

Join the Prevention Staff from the WRC as we explore what consent looks like and practice our sexual communication skills. Plus, cookies! Cosponsored by the Women’s Resources Center, International Education, and International Student and Scholar Services. 

Fall 2022

  • September 21: Can Pop Culture Create Social Change?
    What happens when pop culture meets social justice in the US? Can your favorite music, tv, and movies create change? Join International Education and Diversity & Social Justice Education for a discussion on social justice through the lens of pop culture!
  • October 5: Creating a Balanced Meal with Local/American Produce
    Join McKinley health educators to learn how to prepare and eat balanced meals, using local produce and substituting foods. Challenge yourself and have fun tasting new produce you might not be familiar with.
  • October 11 (Tuesday): Homecoming International Day - Celebrating the Past, Present and Future
    Cosponsored by Student Affairs, International Education and Student Alumni Ambassadors
    • Anniversary Plaza (Quad), 10:45 am-2:00 pm
      Activities and International Snacks on the Quad (Anniversary Plaza)
    • Alum Celebration with Hors d'oeuvres at Alice Campbell Alumni Center, 6:00-8:00 pm
      Celebrate the UIUC global alum and inspire current students - our future alum, with interactive activities.
  • October 12: Global Talent Show at Spurlock Museum (600 S. Gregory St.), 7:30 pm
    Museum opens at 6:00 pm, show starts at 7:30 pm. Light snacks will be served before the show and a dinner after! Sponsored by International Education, International Student and Scholar Services, Student Affairs, and Student Alumni Ambassadors.
  • October 19: International Education Week Special - International Karaoke (Illini Union Courtyard, 7:00 pm)
    Join fellow students and celebrate the international education week with your favorite songs from around the world! International snacks will be provided. Co-sponsored by International Education and Illini Union.
  • October 26: American Dating Slang
    Join us during Domestic Violence Awareness Month to learn more about common dating terms and slang used in the US and behaviors of healthy/unhealthy relationships. Co-sponsored by International Education and Women's Resources Center.
  • November 16: Giving Thanks on International Day for Tolerance
    Learn the history of International Day for Tolerance and celebrate diversity with open-mindedness and appreciation of different cultures. Show your gratitude to others and be a happier self. Join us for an evening of friendship, food and fun activities.
  • November 30: Meal Prep for Finals
    Join McKinley health educators to learn how to fuel up for finals with balanced snacks. Try new takes on classics such as instant ramen and overnight oats while learning how to optimize your studying with nourishing foods.
  • December 8: Reading Day Snacks for Success (Thursday, ISR) | 11:00 am-1:00 pm | Global Lounge
    Stop by at Global Lounge at ISR to grab some international snacks and drinks and finish the semester strong! Co-sponsored by International Education, McKinley Health Center and University Housing. Funded by Office of Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion's Broadening Inclusion Grant.
  • December 12: Snacks for Success Pop-up at the Library (Monday) | 1:00-3:00 pm
    Stop by at the Library Orange Room to grab some international snacks and drinks and finish the semester strong! Co-sponsored by International Education and University Library. Funded by Office of Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion's Broadening Inclusion Grant.
  • December 14: Finals Week Snacks for Success (Wednesday) | 1:00-3:00 pm
    Stop by at International Education/ Asian American Cultural Center to grab some international snacks and drinks during finals week! Co-sponsored by International Education, Asian American Cultural Center and ISSS. Funded by Office of Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion's Broadening Inclusion Grant.

Spring 2022

  • February 2: Healthy at Home (cancelled due to weather)
    Staying healthy is one of your New Year’s resolutions? Come observe how to make an easy, nutritious budget friendly meal and learn how to meal plan, grocery shop and enjoy cooking at home.
  • February 9: Ask ISSS International Advisors Any Question
    You have questions on maintaining status, course-load, student employment, and OPT? You want to find resources and get connected to other international and domestic students on campus? Come join us and get your questions answered and make friends over dinner.
  • February 23: American Slang
    What are some of the latest slang expressions and idioms in English? Have a hard time understanding conversations because of slang? Come to this interactive workshop and learn more about American idiomatic expressions. Share experiences and learn new phrases from experienced instructors of the Intensive English Institute to make your conversational English more native-speaker like!
  • March 23: UIPD Personal Safety Strategies with Self-Defense
    Meet our UIPD officer and learn about personal safety strategies and how to prepare proactively. Practice a few self-defense moves to protect yourself.
  • April 13: Can Pop Culture Create Social Change?
    What happens when pop culture meets social justice in the US? Can your favorite music, tv, and movies create change? Join International Education and Diversity & Social Justice Education for a discussion on social justice through the lens of pop culture!
  • April 27: Mystery Chopped
    Join McKinley Dietitian Ashley Peters and gain some nutrition knowledge and kitchen skills and then test your skills in the kitchen to cook a cultural recipe from mystery ingredients. We will be awarding prizes to the best tasting meal, most nutritious and most creative meals.

Fall 2021

  • August 25: Welcome Back!
    Wanting to chat with fellow students and academic advisors? Have questions about health, insurance, billing, housing, or visa-related issues? Concerns with safety? Looking for an internship or job opportunities? You can find it all here and more! We will have arts and crafts for self-care too. Join us at Global Engagement Lounge to get your questions answered over dinner! You may even meet a therapy dog!
  • September 8: Open House
    Welcome back to campus! The Asian American Cultural Center and International Education invite you to join us for an open house! Meet new friends, learn about programs and events, find out ways to get involved and more. All are welcome! Dinner and giveaways will be provided.
  • September 15: Resident Advisor Info Session
    Interest in working as a Resident Advisor (RA) in the undergraduate halls? Join us to learn more about the RA role and how to apply over dinner! Students can also get your questions answered by academic advisors and ISSS staff over the dinner. Just want to relax? We will have arts and crafts for self-care too.
  • September 29: Fall Celebration
    Fall is here - Join us to celebrate the change of season! Trace fall leaves onto a canvas, color in beautiful fall images, crochet a small pumpkin, and de-stress while having a cup of apple cider! Dinner and supplies will be provided. What is your favorite type of noodles?
  • October 6: Noodles Around the World
    What is your favorite type of noodles? Come and share your stories and learn about noodles around the world on this National Noodle Day! Dinner (various kinds of noodle, of course) is provided.
  • October 13: Game Night
    Interested in playing some board games and recharging during mid-terms? We'll have several board game options available and you are welcome to bring your own board games too.
  • October 20: Speed Friending
    Wanting to make new friends, but not sure where to meet up? Join us for an evening of speed friending, as we celebrate National New Friends Day (October 19)!
  • October 27: Safety and Wellness
    Wanting to learn the campus safety tips and interact with our campus policy officers? Join us for an interactive session with Officer Hurless and meet one of the therapy dogs at UIPD.
  • November 3: Self Care with Friends
    Relax, connect with fellow students and share self-care tips.
  • November 10: Global Friendship
    Join us for a discussion of benefits, challenges, and tips on making friends between domestic and international students! Co-sponsored by Alpha Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity and Student Affairs International Education Committee.

Spring 2021

  • January 27: Student Affairs Resource Fair (4:00-5:00 pm) and January 29 (9:00-10:00 am)
    International students, are you ready for the new semester? Join us at Student Affairs Resource Fair to learn about services, support and programs and connect with professional staff.
  • February 10: Lunar New Year Celebration (4:00-5:00 pm)
    Whether you call it Seollal, Tet, Losar, or Spring Festival, Lunar New Year is around the corner and we will celebrate it with you while you are away from home and family. Join us for fun activities about traditions, food, music, dress, games and more.
  • March 3: South Asian American Leadership Conference - Claiming an Indian American Heritage for a National Museum (4:00-5:00 pm)
    The National Indo-American Museum (NIAM), founded in 2008 as the Indo-American Heritage Museum, turned national with its name change in 2018. Its mission statement declares that it "builds bridges across generations and connects cultures through the diverse colorful stories of all Indian Americans. But is there a common "Indian American" heritage? Given the differences among Indian Americans in language, socio-economic status, religious beliefs and practices, regional origin in India and intergenerational differences here in the US, to name only a few, can Indian Americans claim to have a common or cohesive culture? Is the culture expansive enough to accommodate all the diverse, colorful stories under a single NIAM umbrella, no matter how inclusive? To what extent do family and mainstream perceptions shape Indian American identity and influence the desire to connect with one’s heritage? Explore these critical questions about Indian American identity and culture in this workshop, by NIAM's Executive Board Member and Past President Padma Rangaswamy. You will be challenged to think anew about Indian American heritage and the role of a museum in shaping a community's quest for a distinctive national identity in the American mosaic.
  • March 10: International Women's Day Photography Contest Awards (7:00-8:30 pm)
    Join us celebrating International Women's Day (IWD), featuring the IWD photographs, which highlight women's achievements, experience and resilience around the world. Top awards to winners will be announced during the event. Co-sponsored by Women's Resources Center and International Student and Scholar Services.
  • April 7: ISG Supporting International Students (7:00-8:00 am) and (5:00-6:00 pm) - rescheduled
  • April 16: Partner Sexual Assault & Violence, and U.S. Dating Norms (7:00-8:00 am) and April 21 (5:30-6:30 pm)
    Let's talk about various types of relationship abuse across cultures, discuss U.S. dating norms, and learn about local support systems.

Fall 2020

All events on Wednesdays from 7:00-8:30 pm (CST) via Zoom.

  • September 2: Speed Friending
    Join International Education and the Women's Resources Center for an evening of virtual Speed Friending! Every five minutes, you will join a randomly assigned group of 3 new friends and given a topic or question to discuss. When time is up, you'll be off to make more new friends!
  • September 23: How to Effectively Job Search Online
    This session will help students develop strategies for their online networking and job/internship search. Learning about cultural aspects in online job search and networking will be useful for students who are not familiar with online tools. How to prepare for virtual interviews will be covered in this session too. In addition, students interested in Residential Life Paraprofessional employment opportunities will learn how to apply for RA/MA positions.
  • October 14: Domestic Violence Across Cultures and Dating Norms in U.S.
    Let's talk about domestic violence across cultures internationally, and learn about the support systems and dating norms in the U.S.
  • November 4: Healthy at Home
    McKinley's Dietitian will be providing meal planning tips and tricks to help lessen the burden of cooking at home.
  • December 2: No Gym, No Stress: Fitness During the Finals
    Finals have you stressed? Don't have time to exercise? Come join McKinley's Fitness Peers and Stress Management Peers to learn how important exercise is during stressful times and other ways to de-stress during finals week.

Spring 2020

  • February 12: Love Yourself Berry Much
    Come discuss healthy relationships with yourself and with food with McKinley’s Dietitian and Sexual Health Educator, while making smoothie berry bowls over dinner.
  • March 4: International Women's Day
    Come and celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) featuring the IWD photographs, which highlight women’s achievements, experience and resilience around the world. Top awards to the winners will be announced with the kick-off of March 2020 Art Exhibit at the Asian American Cultural Center. Co-sponsored by Women's Resources Center and International Student and Scholar Services.
  • April 1: D.I.N.E. - Diversity and Inclusion Network Exchange
    6:30-8 pm | Illini Union, Room B
    • Connect with American employers that value diversity
    • Practice networking in a casual setting
    • Hear what American employers look for in new hires
    • Learn what questions you can ask to determine if an organization meets your needs.
  • April 22: Getting Started with Exercise
    An interactive presentation that focuses on the major aspects of physical health (strength, aerobic activity and flexibility) in global perspectives and how to fit exercise into your lifestyle.

Fall 2019

  • September 18: Ask Americans Anything!
    Have you always had questions about American culture, academic expectation, living on and off campus, student organizations, home life, holidays, and more? Come to the first Wednesday's GEL where you can have a safe space to Ask Americans Anything!
  • October 9: Ask International Students Anything!
    Interested in studying abroad? Wondering about the student life in another country? Wanting to get connected with our international students on campus and having a safe space to Ask International Students Anything? Join us on 10/9 at GEL!
  • October 30: International Candy Tasting
    Come and explore some popular American Halloween candies and bring some from your culture to share. Explore popular sweets and treats from around the world and learn from McKinleys Dietitian how to use mindfulness when indulging in treats!
  • November 20: International Games
    Interested in playing some board games and recharging before the end of the semester? We have Monopoly, Parcheesi, Scramble, Sudoku, Go, Chess, Checkers, Cirkis, Mah Jong, Tsuro, Balderdash, Carrom, Ramen Fury, Kodama, Sushi Go Party, and many more. You are welcome to bring your own board games too. Dinner is provided.