The International Involvement Center bustles with students of various cultures having conversations about coffee and making small talk every other Wednesday from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. and is open to all students, staff and faculty members.
The first meeting of the event was August 28th and was catered by Aramark here on campus. There was a scheduled time, but students were interacting for hours after the event ended.
“The second you walk through that door into this place, we are all friends,” junior Valentine Osakwe said. “That’s the main thing I look forward to: seeing new faces and new people every time.”
Osakwe was born in Nigeria and has been active at Northwest becoming involved in the diversity and inclusion aspects of campus. He also actively brings students to the International Coffee Hour event. Being someone many of the students gravitate towards, they tended to talk with him during the event.
“I like to joke with him that he knows everyone,” junior Kenny Grannas said. “Walking from one side of campus to the other, so many people will stop him and chat him up.”
Grannas is native to Missouri and a good friend to Osakwe. Grannas has attended the International Coffee Hour since fall semester of 2018 and has been friends with Osakwe since then.
“The diverse cultures and the little insights that they can give about their lives at home are super cool,” Grannas said. “It’s super interesting to see new faces and then talk to them and become friends.”
Grannas sees the International Coffee Hour as a way to reach out to different cultures and meet new people.
There was no lack of opportunities as all students were actively interacting. The event has a “no-silence” policy to help students who are new to the event connect with others. The policy may not be displayed anywhere, but the staff attending were adamant on enforcing it. Students were engaged in conversation with people they may have met only moments ago, sharing laughs and smiles.
Students gave various reasons as to why they attended the coffee hour, but the goal of reconnecting with students of similar cultures was the common goal.
Sophomore Kyle Drzka was talking about fashion with students who were from Japan.
“The main reason [I come] is to make Japanese friends,” Drzka said. “I was wondering if there were any Japenese students at Northwest, and I met a lot of my friends here.”
Moving from Japan to the United States at a young age, Drzka searched for those who shared his culture. Not finding luck outside of his classes and social groups, he attended the International Coffee Hour and has connected with many international students from around the world.
“No one is different,” Osakwe said. “Each of us has our own stories, our own identities. Sharing that with each other creates friendships that can last for a very long time.”
Everyone is welcome at the International Coffee Hour with the goal to connect all students from different cultures. Even when students came for free coffee and treats, they stayed for the hospitality and conversation.