global engagement lounge (gel)

GEL is a unique place where you can meet other international and domestic students, representatives from campus units, academic advisors, members from RSOs. Get your questions answered while enjoying activities and enhance your Illinois experience. All are welcome! PAID FOR BY THE STUDENT CULTURAL PROGRAMMING FEE.

Spring 2022

Wednesdays @5:30-7pm at Asian American Cultural Center, 1210 West Nevada Street, Urbana

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 @4:00-5:00 pm & January 29 @9:00-10:00 am
Student Affairs Resource Fair

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. Register here for zoom link. 


February 10 @4:00-5:00 pm     
Lunar New Year Celebration

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. Sign up here.  

March 3 @4:00-5:00 pm
South Asian American Leadership Conference - Claiming an Indian American Heritage for a National Museum

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. Register in advance for zoom link: 


March 10 @7:00-8:30 pm     International Women's Day Photography Contest Awards   

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. Share your talent and submit an original photo by March 3, 2021. 


April 7 @ 7:00-8:00 am & 5:00-6:00 pm (rescheduled)
ISG Supporting International Students



April 16 @ 7:00-8:00 am & April 21 5:30-6:30 pm
Partner Sexual Assault & Violence, and U.S. Dating Norms

Let's talk about various types of relationship abuse across cultures, discuss U.S. dating norms, and learn about local support systems.



Fall 2020 Schedule

Time: Wednesdays, 7:00-8:30 pm (CST) via Zoom. Email for event links. 

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 Schedule 

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   

Time: 6:30-8 pm
Location: Illini Union, Room B

Register at

  • 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 Schedule

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.