The mugs were stacked, the coffee was hot, and the conversations were steeping. This was the scene as Coffee Hour returned home to the International Center (IC) on Friday, September 8th.
OISS Programming intern Courtney Lee says that the location change is an exciting one. “Before the event even started there was a line down the hall. Even people who were just walking by stopped in to see what was going on. Last year attendance began to decline over the semester but, if today is any indication, I think the new location will keep students and scholars coming back each week! ”
With over 200 attendants, this may be one of the most successful OISS Coffee Hours to date. When the event first began 30 years ago by Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS), it was merely an easy way for students and community members to gather and chat. Over the years it grew, bouncing between residence halls, classrooms, and meeting spaces. After spending the 2016-2017 school year in the MSU Union, OISS Coffee Hour finally returns to the IC with the generous support of campus sponsors.
Joy Shantz, the Community Outreach Coordinator at the Office for International Students and Scholars, who has leading the Coffee Hour planning for X years, expressed her excitement, “The biggest change for this year is in the location — we are thrilled to bring Coffee Hour back to the IC! Location is so important, and having the event in a space that is central and welcoming to all is going to make it easier for students, scholars, faculty, staff and community members to get here and take part!”.
Location is not the only new thing this semester.
We’re trying to use punch cards to track attendance. When someone comes to Coffee Hour and gets their card punched five times, they will win a prize. It’s like a regular coffee shop, building a reputation of wanting people to come back and return for more coffee but even more importantly, for more conversation and relationship building. Luckily we were able to provide free football tickets for raffling at our first Coffee Hour back to the IC if they submit the Coffee Hour feedback form.
Some Coffee Hour regulars shared with us their passion for Coffee Hour and what motivated them to keep coming.
Dilon Jaghory, an MSU student double majored in World Politics and Chinese said, “I have been going to Coffee Hour for three years now since sophomore year…At Coffee Hour I got to meet with people from different parts of the world and various majors at MSU. It is also a good place to make friends and a fantastic event at MSU!” Dilon also mentioned his social media name on WeChat (a mobile app) is 地球人, meaning global citizen, “I don’t feel like I fully belong to one culture, but at the same time, I can mix into these all different cultures and find a sense of completeness by being in the middle of all these.”
Faizan Shafique, a Fulbright Ph.D. fellow at MSU also mentioned why it is important to have a space like Coffee Hour. “One time at Coffee Hour, I told someone I met the first time that I am from Pakistan. Then the first question from that person was how many wives do I have. I clarified the stereotype but that’s why it is so important to meet with people from other parts of the world to have this cultural exchange. Stereotypes are huge, and sometimes they can create so many problems.” Shafique has been coming to Coffee Hour for a long time. One piece of advice he gives to anyone who want to be welcoming and are curious to learn other cultures is to communicate directly and plainly and not to be afraid of asking questions. Talk to real people from those countries, instead of relying on the media or internet, in which way you may not get to know the real thing. I noticed sometimes locals are hesitant to ask, fearing that people may not be welcoming, for example. But look at around, there are so many nationalities here (Coffee Hour), and I know that each and every one of them is ready to talk to me. I have litterally friends from more than 50 countries and partially due to the Fulbright program, but also because of MSU.”
A lot of times, people come to Coffee Hour through word of mouth. Asad Nawaz, Guarab
Asad Nawaz, Guarab Panda and Syed Gillani are friends and they came to Coffee Hour together. It is Syed’s first time at Coffee Hour. He is a visiting scholar from Pakistan. Even though he will be leaving in January 2018, he wanted to connect with the campus as much as he can. When asked about their favorite thing of MSU, Syed agreed that diversity is the best thing at MSU and you can talk to anyone in the Coffee Hour. Asad Nawaz, Electrical Engineering major Junior said, “I came to Coffee Hour for the free coffee and the football tickets… and my favorite thing is to have a road trip and drive around. I have been to UP and Mackinac Island. That’s very beautiful!” For Guarab, Coffee Hour is a great way to fill the Friday afternoon time and take a break from busy school and work. His favorite thing at MSU is to hangout with friends and play sports together!
We can go on and on with great stories like theirs. But the best ones await you to find out by yourself at Coffee Hour! We can’t wait to see you every Friday this semester from 4 pm to 6 pm in the Spartan Rooms (inside the food court) in International Center. Go Green! Go White!