The International Student and Scholars Services, ISSS, hosts an International Coffee Hour every Friday at 4 p.m., where students and staff from all over the world can gather to meet over coffee and chat about life.
The group meets in the UMC across from Baby Doe’s Coffee Shop. They give each participant a coupon for free refreshments from Baby Doe’s, and hold a door prize drawing with free prizes from various companies on and off campus.
“The goal of it really is to have a time and a place for anyone with international interests, at all, including domestic and international students and domestic and international faculty and staff, to have a chance to meet, a place to do it, and a time,” said Becky Sibley, an International Student Advisor.
Sibley said the Coffee Hour has anywhere from 40-60 people attending each week. The group hopes to start attracting more faculty and staff members in addition to students.
“What we want to do is have it in a place where people can meet faculty members and staff members also, so that the whole university feels more welcome,” she said.
The idea was not an original idea from ISSS it was an idea that a staff member encountered at the University of Oregon, and decided to introduce at CU Sibley said.
“We are seeing that it is working, and what we are hoping to do is to get a student group to want to take it over and do with it whatever they want. It can turn into either a talking time or it can be presentations for different student groups, it could be a variety of things,” Sibley said.
The group is very diverse, with people attending from different backgrounds for different reasons.
“The reason I come is to have a chat with others, because I am here alone,” said Kayoko Shinomiya, a junior majoring in integrated physiology, and an international student from Japan. She has attended three times so far, and recognizes a few of the other people sitting around the room.
The table Shinomiya sat at talked about their perceptions on America, and how they came to be here.
“When I came here, I thought everyone would be the same, but they aren’t,” said Shinomiya.
“In Japan,” she said, “strangers do not talk.” Other exchange students from Asia nodded in agreement with her argument.
Some of the participants came to talk to students from other countries, sometimes in their own languages, but still others came for the free coffee.
Shinomiya conversed in Japanese to Emily Bloedel, a freshman majoring in Japanese, who has been studying it since her freshman year of high school.
“I come because it’s a lot of fun, and I like to meet people,” Bloedel said.
At a different table, Becca Palmer, the president of the International Peer Mentors, and a senior majoring in anthropology, gathers with students she has met through her mentor group. She likes to come simply because she likes people, and foreign accents.
One of Palmer’s friends, Salman Al Saif, a freshman majoring in electrical engineering and an exchange student from Saudi Arabia, said he comes for the free coffee. The group started meeting this fall, the week before school started and it plans to continue.
“We’re happy with it, and we will continue doing it throughout the academic year,” said Sibley.