Cafe International blends culture, brews conversationBy Mitch Folcik • April 4, 2011 • Category: Uncategorized
The UW-Platteville Writing Center invites domestic and foreign students, faculty and staff to Cafe International, held from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Fridays in the Oasis Room on the third floor of Brigham Hall. New to UW-P this semester, the informal discussion group gives non-native speakers a chance to ask questions about U.S. culture and language and all comers a chance to participate in a casual and informative cultural exchange.
Writing and Tutoring Resources Director Evelyn Martens, Writing Center Coordinator Russ Brickey and University Tutoring Resources Graduate Assistant Reza Bahar plan a short presentation each week to help kick-start the dialogue.
“We don’t want it to be like a classroom environment,” Bahar said. “We want to ask questions about universal issues and encourage people to talk about their experiences.”
“We want [attendees] to learn a little bit about culture, a little bit about language,” Brickey added.
At the first meeting Feb. 25, the group talked about the culture of coffee, which led to a discussion of tea and its customs around the world the following week.
“One student brought in charms and totems and explained how each related to the customs of different teas in her country,” Martens said. “It was interesting to see how different types of teas served different purposes within that culture.”
At the third meeting March 11, English education major Leslie Yang shared verses of traditional Chinese poetry, some of which she sang for the group. When the group met again after Spring Break on March 24, Yang and UW-P alumna Bharathi Konduru talked about the similarities and differences in health and education systems, population growth, and social structures between their native countries, China and India. Bahar closed the gathering with a presentation on Norouz, the traditional Iranian New Year.
Martens, Brickey and Bahar hope involvement in Cafe International continues to rise.
“The broader, the better,” Brickey said. “China, Germany, Jordan, Korea, the Netherlands—we know there are people on campus from all over the world, and we would like to see more U.S. students come.”
“The more diverse the group, the more we’ll learn about life outside of our own experiences,” Martens added.
A discussion of American film is planned for Friday, April 8, with English professor Laura Beadling set to give a short presentation.
Brickey said the group is open to any students, faculty or staff interested in sharing.
For more information, or to suggest an idea you would like to share with Cafe International, e-mail Martens at firstname.lastname@example.org, Brickey at email@example.com or Bahar at firstname.lastname@example.org, or drop by Brigham Hall any Friday between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
“You’ll never meet a more welcoming group of people,” Brickey said.