The International Involvement Center at Northwest hosts the International Coffee Hour every other Wednesday from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m, giving students from across the world a chance to meet new people with similar or different cultures from their own.
The event is open to all students, staff and faculty and gives everyone the opportunity to connect, make new friends and connect with old ones.
The International Coffee Hour works like an open house; you come in, grab some coffee and snacks and then go mingle with anyone else there.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students are no longer able to meet in person for meetings or events like this. The Assistant Director of the International Involvement Center, Erika Lees, said the meetings are now taking place through Zoom in what is called Friday Culture Talks.
“The International Student Organization meetings have been moved to Zoom,” Lees said. “Since we do not have events to plan for, it has become a social event for students. We have also been able to connect with former exchange students and alumni from around the world during these meetings, which has been great.”
The first Friday Culture Talk took place April 3 where the topic was COVID-19. Students and alumni shared their stories of how COVID-19 has impacted their day-to-day lives.
Some students mentioned that they don’t mind the online classes at all because it is what they normally do. Sophomore Gustavo Peixto, from Brazil, said he has adapted to the online format, but not so well.
“I never liked online classes, I feel like I learn much more in in-person classes, and I also feel more productive with them,” Peixto said. “I also feel with this whole quarantine thing, I've become lazier if that makes sense, and I'm having a harder time keeping motivated and focused, but I'm doing my best not to ball behind and to keep my grades up.”
According to freshman Amrita Biswas, from Bangladesh, she has adapted to the online format well, but also feels it has made her lazy.
“I think I’m adapting pretty well,” Biswas said. “The only problem is it has made me lazy. No classes makes the lecture videos feel longer, but it is still good. I’m doing my assignments on time and my tests well.”
Students also talked about all the things they miss doing . Multiple students agreed that they actually miss going to class.
“I miss going to class and having a face to face contact with my professors,” Peixoto said. “I do miss hanging out with friends but, since I'm not completely alone at my apartment, I have my roommate living with me, hanging out with friends isn't on the top of my list.”
Along with what they miss, students discussed everything that they are going to do once this pandemic is over.
“So, the first thing I’m doing is going out and screaming my freedom to everyone and hugging people, letting them know that the quarantine is over,” Biswas said.
According to Peixoto, he plans on going out to a restaurant or to the movies with friends, somewhere that is closed right now because of the restrictions.
This pandemic has affected international students in many different ways. Some students were able to fly back to their home countries and be with their families while others are quarantined in Maryville.
“Some students have returned home to finish their classes online, while others remain on campus since they cannot return home due to border closures or suspension of flights,” Lees said. “Our international student athletes had their winter and spring seasons cut short and many of the organization events have been canceled.”
According to Lees, Northwest has offered on campus housing in the Forest Village Apartments for international students stuck in Maryville. Peixoto said that that is where he is staying during this pandemic. Other students, like Biswas, have family in the U.S. who they can stay with. International students agreed that Northwest has been helpful during this crisis.
“Yes, the Northwest faculty has been very helpful,” Biswas said. “My professors are doing all they can to address my questions and I am getting all the help I need online through the website.”
If you are wanting to attend a Friday Culture Talk, contact the International Student Organization for Zoom meeting details. You can contact them at email@example.com.