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For international students, U.S. college traditions and the rules of sports can be confusing, so UNT Homecoming Royalty Ashley Pickle created a fun and informative event that taught them about the university and one of America’s most popular sports—basketball.
As part of the prize package for being the Homecoming Royalty winner, Pickle was awarded $1,000 to implement a campus impact project. She focused her project on a Welcome Party and Basketball 101 event for international students, which was held on Jan. 10 in the Gateway Center Ballroom.
“The reason I chose Basketball 101 as my campus impact project was because I was able to help North Texas Athletics and UNT International plan Football 101 this past fall semester to teach international students about American football and encourage them to come to the games, and it was a huge success,” said Pickle. “I had never experienced hosting an event for a group of students who were more excited to learn about the traditions we have at UNT and to learn about something I’m extremely passionate about—sports. So I figured what better way to start off the semester than with an introduction of basketball.”
At the event, international students were treated to dinner and were able to meet Scrappy, learn the Eagle Claw and UNT Fight Song, check out UNT basketball player stats and the rules of the game, play games and receive prizes and giveaways.
After the reception, the students walked to the UNT Coliseum for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Game vs. UTEP (University of Texas El Paso) and experienced fan appreciation night.
While planning the event, Pickle worked with Student Activities, who assisted in laying out the timeline and overseeing the budget. She also partnered with UNT International, who coordinated the event location, food and prizes, and North Texas Athletics, who provided information about the North Texas basketball teams and giveaways. The Denton Convention Center also put together welcome packages for the international students which had various information packets on places to eat and things to do around the Denton community.
“The main goal of this event was for international students to come in and have a chance to make new friends,” said Pickle. “We wanted them to feel welcomed on the UNT campus and provide a way to make them feel comfortable within their first week of being here. They also were able to leave with a better understanding on how well both our men’s and women’s basketball teams are performing this year, how they are able to get into any home sporting event for free and receive information on things they can spend time doing while in Denton.”
The experience also made an impact on Pickle and reaffirmed her commitment to UNT.
“Personally, from this entire experience, the international students reminded me how grateful and excited I should be every day I get to be at UNT,” she said. “These four years go by really quickly, and the excitement and willingness to learn shown by the international students reminds me to not ever take for granted how lucky I am to be getting an education from UNT and to always cherish being a part of the Mean Green Family.”