Friday, September 9, 2011 kicked-off our first Weekly Coffee Hour that included live music by DJ Joee, food and coffee provided by Sparty’s and other vendors. The room filled up very quickly starting at 3:45pm and lasted until about 6:15pm. The Spartan rooms welcomed approximately 500 international and local students, scholars, faculty and staff. People from around the world got a chance to mingle with others from a different country.

Before we were even all set up and ready, people started to line up to get into the room so that they could make a name tag and receive a wrist band, and for the lucky first 50 people a surprise OISS stainless steel thermos. My coworkers and I hustled to try and provide the first 50 people with a mug and move the line as quickly as possible so that everyone could come in and enjoy the free food and coffee. The line went around the corner in the cafeteria to get into coffee hour. The energy was high and the excitement of meeting others filled the air. People continued to arrive throughout the 2 hours and stayed until the very end. Food went quickly and the Sparty’s staff ran to keep up with the number of people who wanted coffee. DJ Joee provided some nice international background music while CVIP had a table set-up to recruit for the International Friendship Program, a great opportunity that you should explore further if you wish.

After things cooled down a bit and people stopped coming in large numbers, I finally got to adventure out into my first real coffee hour. I went around to some people I knew and then met some people that I didn’t know. People of all countries were represented and were very friendly. I got to practice my Portuguese with some Brazilians and Portuguese. I met some Saudi Arabians and Egyptians who told me about their first thoughts of the USA. A new Brazilian Portuguese teacher was telling me about how she was supposed to host the Portuguese coffee hours on Fridays but wanted to change times so she could attend coffee hour instead. This truly made me smile as it shows that coffee hour is really reaching out to people and making a positive impact in their lives. I know how difficult it is to be an international student in a new country and to see that coffee hour is bringing people together and providing friendships that people might not otherwise have, is truly a remarkable experience, and one that I’m sure all students will appreciate.

It was a truly remarkable turn-out for our first coffee hour! I, along with the rest of OISS, want to thank all of you who came out to fill the room and hope that you will come out every Friday from 4-6pm to participate in our coffee hour and meet new people.

Anna Graziano is a fourth-year undergraduate student who was born in Kansas and has lived in Brazil, South Africa, Japan and around the United States. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Comparative Cultures and Politics at MSU’s James Madison College with minors in Portuguese and Educational Studies. Her interests vary from African culture to refugee services. Anna serves as a Programming Intern at OISS.