Meet the world at the International Cafe

At+the+International+Cafe%2C+you+can+make+connections+as+you+drink+a+mug+of+coffee.
At the International Cafe, you can make connections as you drink a mug of coffee.

At the International Cafe, you can make connections as you drink a mug of coffee.

Photo Illustration Jack Lambert

Photo Illustration Jack Lambert

At the International Cafe, you can make connections as you drink a mug of coffee.

Adam Robertson, Staff Reporter

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It may not seem like the small town of Ellensburg—a place with less than 20,000 people—would be the first choice for international students looking to study abroad, but perhaps that’s part of the charm for those who do choose to come here.

A student in an international program officially comes here to study, but they also come to see America, and Ellensburg is quintessentially American. The town is encircled by big Western skies, shadow contoured hills and rolling farmland; at either end of the main drag, two burger joints compete for the crown of town best.

Just being in America isn’t enough to truly experience America, though. The best way to learn about a place is to talk to the people who live there, which is easier said than done. It’s always hard to make connections, especially as a stranger in a strange land.

That’s why, for the third year, the Office of International Studies and Programs is putting on a series of events they call the International Cafe. Events are held two or three times a quarter—this quarter on Oct. 12, Nov. 2 and Nov. 16—and they give students the opportunity to meet each other in a loosely structured setting.

Students participate in icebreakers and play trivia with a mixture of international and domestic students at an assigned table. This gives them reason to interact but enough freedom to show their personality. Those who wish to attend do need to register so that they may be assigned a table.

Each International Cafe is sponsored by a different club, program, class or other organization and they all bring their own unique spin to the event. When the tourism and recreation program hosted the event they set up tables representing different Pacific Northwest attractions and took students on a sightseeing tour. On another occasion the theme was children’s stories from around the world.

Dakota McAndie, a physiology major, is hooked on the event.

“I think I’ve been to every single one,” McAndie said.

He has been attending International Cafe’s for the past two years and enjoys getting to meet and make friends with people from different countries and cultures, forging friendships along the way.

One such friend is Yuri Imai, a graduate of the University English as a Second Language (UESL) program from Japan. She appreciated the opportunity that the events gave her.

“When I was a UESL student I didn’t have a chance to meet American students. Everyone [in UESL classes] is from…not America,” Imai said.

Friendships like the one between Imai and McAndie represent success for the International Cafe.

“The holy grail is that some students might make new friends… somebody they maybe never would’ve had the chance to talk to,” said UESL Director Sherri Fujita.

This fall there are roughly 475 international students across all the CWU campuses—representing 54 countries—meaning there are a lot of connections to be made between people that might otherwise never meet.

“Our main goal is to foster interactions between domestic students and international students,” said Asia University America Program Director Nicki Kukar.

However, Kukar also pointed out that the events are an equally great opportunity for domestic students to forge connections with other domestic students and international students with international students.

The groups who host the International Cafe help to create a fun setting to facilitate connections, but they benefit as well. They get an audience they can introduce to their club or their program and they get an opportunity to take on the responsibility of running an event.

“It’s a really good way to get the leadership experience and have some structured support,” Fujita said.

The first International Cafe of the year is being held at noon in SURC 137 on Oct. 12. Students are encouraged to bring lunch, though snacks and drinks will be provided.

Photo Illustration Jack Lambert
At the International Cafe, you can make connections as you drink a mug of coffee.

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Meet the world at the International Cafe