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International student creates event to celebrate international fellowship

Photo courtesy of Marco Del Grosso

By Alexandra Figares

Marco Del Grosso, an international student from Italy, had his first encounter with FGCU through International Services almost three years ago.
The office he has called “home” since his arrival has helped him with getting bed sheets, fixing passport woes and handling transitional hardships.
Since his arrival, Del Grosso has had to learn about American culture and customs on his own.
He’s learned about the importance of involvement and currently holds leadership positions as a student ambassador and resident assistant. He’s also a member of various clubs on campus and enjoys networking in the community. But, it hasn’t always been that way.
“As an international student coming to the U.S., I totally did not know all these opportunities that this community could offer me,” Del Grosso said. “I didn’t know about the Rotary Club or the Rotaract Club. I didn’t know anything about it until a few months ago.”
Eager to create an international fellowship, Del Grosso developed an idea that would bring the community, students and international students together in one room.
After about two months of planning, Del Grosso developed the International Friends Cafe, an event that would deepen international knowledge, create a bond and build friendly trustworthy relationships between international students and the community.
“I had the chance to network and meet people,” Del Grosso said. “I think that many other international students that come here to the U.S., they do not know a lot.  I didn’t when I was here my first year, so I didn’t have this chance.”
The International Friends Cafe, which will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 24, is a diversity and inclusion event that will feature speakers like FGCU President Mike Martin and members from the Rotary Club of Bonita Springs.
Students, faculty and staff will have a chance to mingle and enjoy coffee and snacks, but Del Grosso wants to make one thing clear: It’s not a networking event. It’s a friendship building event.
“I think that the core value of this event is to actually embrace this peak of human achievement: Friendship,” Del Grosso said. “Friendship between different cultures, different populations, different virtues and values, but cultures that share the same value for friendship.”
Del Grosso said he hopes the event will continue in the future and plans on hosting another one in the spring. Director of International Services Elaine Hozdik said she hopes Del Grosso’s event will be “the first of many.”
“On behalf of International Services, it is wonderful to see an FGCU student, like Marco, have vision, passion and use these toward making the FGCU experience for others very enriching and memorable.

If you go:
WHO: FGCU International Services
WHAT: International Friends Cafe
WHEN: 5:30-7p.m.
WHERE: Cohen Center 214

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