“Dinner with 12 Strangers” combines Chinese food, the business of global flowers and networking.

It’s an innovative idea that’s part business, part social—and totally interesting. “Dinner with 12 Strangers,” a brainchild of the Student Alumni Association at Florida International University (FIU), lets alumni and community partners host a dinner for a dozen FIU students to impart career and real-world insight.

Carlos Oramas (BBA ’93), a seasoned marketing professional and CEO of Gems Global Inc., recently hosted one. While the opportunity was open to all FIU students, many who attended the Oramas dinner were from the College of Business Administration.

Carlos Oramas engages students at a Dinner with 12 Strangers.

As the group enjoyed a Chinese-inspired dinner, Oramas explained the strategies he uses to market flowers to his clients such as Publix and Fresh Market. GEMS Global product lines include the Pura Vida Bouquet and the environmentally conscious Earth Smart.

“Speaking to Oramas and his team gave me a clear outlook on what marketing companies are looking for,” said Yanyn San Luis, FIU senior and alumni relations assistant. “Above all, they are searching for creative innovators who are consistently exploring ways to enrich the company.”

Students participate in volunteer activity.

Oramas invited the students to join Gems Global, Inc. for its volunteer outreach event called Blooming Hope.

“Through the use of flowers, our goal is to bring hope and happiness to those feeling disheartened, lonely and scared,” he said. “Groups of local volunteers, organized by Gems team members, create flower bouquets, pair them with cards and cookies and then deliver them personally.”

“It was an incredible experience,” said San Luis, who volunteered. “The best part was to deliver the bouquets to local elderly homes around the area and witness the smiles.”

Can you host a Dinner with 12 Strangers?

The Student Alumni Association plans eight dinners a year in the Dinner with 12 Strangers program.

FIU alumni and friends are welcome to host one to share on-campus and career experiences. E-mail Dianne Cordova at dcordova@fiu.edu for more information.

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