Arts & Entertainment, Features

Students find conversation, new friends at Atlas BU

The Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground, Boston University Student Activities Office and GrooveBoston hosted dance event Atlas BU on the BU Beach Sept. 2 after the orientation for international students. PHOTO COURTESY GROOVEBOSTON

New Boston University students found a way to start their academic year on a happy note by dancing the summer night away.

Atlas BU, a Saturday late-night dance event, was hosted by the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground, BU’s Student Activities Office, and GrooveBoston — which is a concert production company specializing in university and colleges along the East Coast.

Shari Tumandao, assistant director of arts, grants and programs for the HTC, explained that the event was intentionally scheduled to follow the conclusion of BU’s international student orientation.

The DJ played musical hits from around the world for the dancing Terriers. The evening was targeted towards welcoming BU’s new international students, but any student with a BU ID could attend.

By opening the doors to all BU students, Tumandao said they were able to ensure true diversity at the event and give the students a chance to integrate with each other and find their place in an environment that was entirely new for them.

She also said the event had evolved from a reception at the Metcalf Ballroom to a large late-night dance party.

“Every year, there is an international student welcome reception hosted by residence life, and last year that was co-hosted by the Howard Thurman Center,” Tumandao said. “This year, it became something [between] the Howard Thurman Center and the Student Activities Office.”

She added, “We asked, ‘How can we flip it so it’s not just something that’s held at Metcalf?’ and it’s more than just passing by, saying hello and grabbing some hors d’oeuvres and leaving … Why don’t we create an experience for everybody to remember?”

To achieve their goals of creating a memorable event for students, the HTC and SAO brought in GrooveBoston.

“Our main mission is to make the people at our shows happy,” said Katie Miller, an operations and logistics intern for GrooveBoston who was working on the tech team for the event.

She explained that every time they went to a show, they always adapted to the demographic of the schools and whatever the schools wanted from the show.

“We need to make sure what we think is [going to] be best for [the school and colleges], so we talk months to years in advance with these schools to make sure that it [the event] is a unique fit for that school,” Miller said.

Miller said that GrooveBoston doesn’t like to repeat anything.

“If the two schools are totally different, we are always trying to stay consistent to our message of making sure everyone is happy,” she said. “We do that by bringing awesome music, great production, lights, the whole nine yards, and we just want students to have a good time to let loose and enjoy themselves.”

She was especially excited by the prospect of this particular show because it was a show for new students, some of whom were new not just to BU but also to the United States.

“It’s such a great opportunity for students to meet each other and have a good time … All people who may have extremely different backgrounds come together in one spot, enjoying the experience, and giving them this experience is our main goal,” Miller said.

Students took the opportunity to interact with other incoming freshmen and make friends.

Maria Ordonez, a freshman in the Questrom School of Business, said it had been hard to make friends throughout the orientation. Atlas BU gave her a more comfortable setting in which she could do so.

“Orientation was really shocking [because] I didn’t really know how to interact with people,” Ordonez said. “This has been really cool, because people are dancing and you can just slide into their little circle and you’re interacting, so I think this is a new cool way of making friends.”

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