Friday night, finding a date at Penn got easier for those who attended the Assembly of International Students’ date auction.

AIS auctioned dates with 10 Penn students at Smokey Joe’s as a fundraiser for local charity Project H.O.M.E.

The audience included a mix of freshmen and upperclassmen as well as members of Penn’s ethnically diverse groups such as Onda Latina and Yalla.

The contestants, who came from a variety of countries including Colombia, Senegal and Mexico, participated in the auction for different reasons. Engineering sophomore Aadithya Prakesh was not only attracted by the charity aspect of the event but also the appeal of the AIS at Penn. “I love the international community. That’s why I’m doing this.”

College and Wharton senior Arjun Mohan, another one of the contestants, was excited to participate in a charity event which “directly helped the Philadelphia community,” as Project H.O.M.E. aims to help end homelessness and poverty in the Philadelphia area.

College sophomore Natalia Llado Calderon said, “Charity is the only reason I’m here.” Shortly before College sophomore and host of the evening Levi Gikandi “bought” her, Calderon said she was nervous as it was “something [she] had never done before … I have no clue who’s going to buy me but I’ll take it like a champ.”

The contestants showcased their talents and charisma to entice the audience members to raise their bids. Wharton sophomore Ashley Rivera belly-danced upon the audience’s request, raising the bid to over $50. The audience sang along as College senior and contestant Oliver Palley performed Nat King Cole’s classic song “L-O-V-E.”

As auction host Gikandi, a former Daily Pennsylvanian video producer, read each contestant’s personalized blurb and encouraged the attendees to raise their bids, 1972 College graduate Bob Blake served as the evening’s piano entertainer. Blake, also known as “Bobby in the Lobby,” contributed to the international atmosphere by playing classics and cultural tunes throughout the evening.

Although there were no entry fees, the event raised between $10 and $60 per contestant, totaling $323. Each new “couple” received a gift card from various restaurants in Philadelphia to help fund their date.

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