CU Denver Thanksgiving for international students

Volunteer for CU at the Table

Program provides outlet for international students to connect with alumni, faculty and staff over holiday meal

October 5, 2017

CU Denver has launched a pilot program, CU at the Table, that invites current CU Denver international students to the homes of alumni, faculty and staff who serve as dinner hosts this Thanksgiving season.

The university’s international students make up a significant population of about 1,200 students. CU Denver, a welcoming place for all, seeks to provide an outlet for this group to more deeply connect with the university and the community of which it is a part.

The 2017 CU at the Table dinners will take place the evenings of Nov. 16, 23 and 30 with dinner starting after 6 p.m. Nov. 23 coincides with Thanksgiving Day and fall break.

Collaborative program

CU at the Table is a collaboration between the university’s Office of International Affairs (OIA) and CU Denver Alumni Relations. The idea was hatched by Chancellor Dorothy Horrell who asked, “Have our international students visited an American home?” The question sparked a rich discussion among the top levels of university leadership about ways to help our international students further connect with the university community.

CU at the Table was born.

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How to sign up

For those wishing to sign up as a host or student participant this year, please complete the CU at the Table registration at the bottom of this link by Sunday, Oct. 15.


John Sunnygard, executive director of OIA, said the presence of international students at CU Denver enriches our community, state and nation. “Peace and engagement begins at the personal level,” he said. “We don’t want anyone to feel isolated or to miss out on the rich opportunity of living and learning in another country.” He noted that his extensive international travels have taken him into the homes of gracious hosts across the globe. “I’ve always found the things I feared most – new people, language and cultural mistakes – were the least important issues. My fears melted away with a smile, a handshake and a conversation. … I am deeply grateful that I accepted the invitations.”

Dan Gould, executive director, Alumni Relations and Annual Fund, said our alumni are increasingly looking for ways to meaningfully lend their time and energy to the university. “CU at the Table represents an exciting opportunity for our entire campus community, especially our alumni, to participate in CU Denver’s priority of creating a more cohesive, collaborative and inclusive culture,” he said. “Our graduates serve an important role in reaffirming our campus’ commitment to diversity and creating a bond to the CU Denver community. … We are excited for our alumni to confirm that those who travel from great distances are welcome here at the University of Colorado Denver, and in the Denver community.”

Students welcome the opportunity

International students at CU Denver
CU Denver’s large population of international students includes, from left, Jun Wang (China), Anna Rios (Brazil) and Udaya Sree Mutyala (India).

CU Denver International students are also grateful for CU at the Table, saying it offers an opportunity to enjoy a meal and learn more about American culture. Some of their thoughts:

  • Udaya Sree Mutyala, a graduate student in business analytics, is from India: “Some of my friends don’t come out of their own cultural loop very often and interact with others. This program would give them a great opportunity to interact.”
  • Anna Rios, a sophomore studying financial management and accounting, is from Brazil: “I think it’s very nice – it’s a chance to make friends and learn about American culture. Thanksgiving is a day to reflect and talk about what we’re thankful for. It’s really nice to be a part of it, enjoy family time and share a wonderful dinner.”
  • Jun Wang, fourth-year doctoral student in civil engineering, is from China: “I think CU at the Table is a good chance for our Chinese and other international students to understand the community here better. Hopefully, we can understand more and learn more here. I’d be very happy to have a chance to go to someone’s home for dinner.”

In future iterations of this program, where a wider population of students can be invited, the CU at the Table dinners will be an opportunity for students to meet other current classmates they previously did not know and potentially make valuable career connections through the host.