The lunch club
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 01:03
Daniel Chuang, a junior in finance and entrepreneurship from Taiwan, is not satisfied with simply earning a diploma. He is on a mission that is building a legacy on campus.
Chuang’s story begins like many other international students’. He arrived in Corvallis three years ago, knowing next to no one and wanting to meet more Americans.
“I was suffering to learn English,” Chuang said.
He often stayed in his room learning English on weekends instead of socializing.
After two years of making connections, he realized he knew many Americans and international students and felt a responsibility to bring them together. This led him to start up an informal weekly lunch in September with five friends. The group has since multiplied to between 30 to 50 weekly attendees.
The overall pool of those invited on the OSU Lunch Club’s Facebook event page surpasses 250 people, due largely to Chuang’s outgoing personality, passion for bringing people together and unwavering dedication to his friends through social networking.
According to the current INTO OSU brochure, Oregon State University is home to more than 1,800 international students, with 89 different countries represented in the student body.
The international student population increased by 38 percent in 2011, according to data released by university relations and marketing. With such a growing presence on campus, this community’s well-being is vital to the health of the university. Chuang invests his own time and effort to that initiative.
The OSU lunch club kicked off its second term in January. International and American students alike are invited to come, eat and socialize from 12 to 2 p.m. each Friday.
Meeting spots have included the Memorial Union food court, Marketplace West and the Southside Station at Arnold. This week, the club is back at Arnold.
Lunch club has students representing at least 13 countries: Japan, India, Russia, Taiwan, France, Saudi Arabia, Burma, Indonesia, Kenya, Gabon, Korea, China and the United States.
Chuang works as a marketing coordinator for Jim Kuhlman, a real estate agent with State Farm Insurance, who has come to know Chuang as amiable and accepting.
“Daniel’s a social genius; he likes to pull people together,” Kuhlman said, “He’s absolutely fearless in terms of meeting people and inviting them. He’ll be successful, I have no doubt, if in business, or whatever else he ventures into. And he’s a pleasure to be around.”
Chuang’s vision is to help international students academically, and to build social networking for the future. He says he hopes these friendships within the clubs will create opportunities for more students to travel internationally, and to host one another in their native countries.
Chuang hopes for mutual learning of languages and cultures. One long-term vision of his is to bridge family businesses in the Middle East and Asia.
He notes that many international students come from wealthy families who own large businesses, and envisions students bringing their businesses together through social media, and possibly offering each other job opportunities in the future.
One moment of inspiration for Chuang occurred when he saw his professor eating lunch alone at the Memorial Union.
“I thought, ‘Am I too afraid to talk?’” Chuang said. “Why not eat together and build a social network?”
He now makes sure to invite professors to attend the club as well, for academic advice as well as socializing.
Chuang is more than a party-thrower, though. For those in who stayed Corvallis over winter break, he used social media to regularly gather and engage people who couldn’t travel home, so that no one would have to be alone.
When school is in session, he organizes events geared to help international students with internships and public speaking, and he provides resources for his peers to set them up for success in college and beyond.
He rallies groups to attend OSU campus events, connecting international students with OSU After Dark at Dixon Recreation Center, basketball games, Career Services events and even happenings in the greater Corvallis community.
“You should go out and see more different worlds that you can’t really see right now,” Chuang said. “Stop by sometime to our OSU Lunch Club. It’s just where you have lunch, and hang out with your friends. Once you come, most people cannot stop coming.”
Maddy Duthie, contributor