Photo by Greg Clark | Students participating in this week’s coffee hour painted canvases with colors representing the elements.
On Friday, Nov. 16, the International Center held their monthly coffee hour from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Memorial Union.
This week’s coffee hour followed the theme: Internationalization on Canvas, in honor of International Education Week on campus.
Three painting easels were set up for participants to paint on, each painting representing one of the three elements: earth, water and fire. A table was filled with an array of paints, brushes and palettes and attendees were encouraged to contribute their artistic hand to the paintings.
An arrangement of light refreshments was set out for those in attendance to enjoy, including different kinds of ethnic foods and coffee.
International Student Advisor, Abigail Borchert, said that they hold the monthly coffee hour to bring together the international students and represent students of different ethnicities and backgrounds on campus.
Borchert said that the coffee hour helps students facilitate connections with others.
“Our office works with undergrads and grads, their families, and visiting scholars who come to do research or come abroad to do research or teach,” Borchert said. “A lot bring their families so we have a multigenerational turnout here.”
Along with the University of Rhode Island’s International Center’s staff, many student volunteers also attended the event. A junior at URI, Kelsey Grenus, was one of the volunteers at November’s coffee hour.
“I thought the painting with everyone from around the world is cool to see what they would contribute,” Grenus said.
Grenus explained that she studied abroad over the summer and had a wonderful time meeting new people and learning about their cultures.
When she came back home from her trip abroad, she decided that she wanted to continue learning about other’s experiences and gaining knowledge of the world, so she looked into volunteering at the International Center.
Another volunteer at the coffee hour, URI senior Madeline White, said that this internationalization on canvas was a cool event that she had never helped out at before.
“It’s a great way to get everyone together,” White said. “I’ve enjoyed volunteering for them and everyone is really down to earth.”
White said that volunteering at coffee hours has been very impactful and that she has learned a lot from all the people she has met- no matter what language they spoke.
A graduate student and international student from Lebanon, Amer Charbaji, is one of the students who regularly attends the coffee hours. Charbaji said that the coffee hours bring people together and helps them learn more about other students on campus who they may not interact within another setting.
“You meet different people from different parts of the world,” Charbaji said. “I’m glad the school carries out Coffee Hour and they should do more events.”
A good friend of Charbaji’s whom he met from the coffee hours, graduate student and an international student from India, Manob Saikia, also said that he comes to most of the coffee hours.
Saikia said that the coffee hours are great for international students because it helps them to have an event to attend where they can meet other international students who can help them adjust to the new settings and living in a new country. “I know how difficult it is for new students because I understand their program,” Saikia said.
Christie Swanson, a sophomore at URI, attended the coffee hour for the first time in November and said that she really enjoyed going.
“Everyone was really friendly and outgoing,” Swanson said. “International students just came up to me and started talking to me which was so kind. I will definitely come back to more, it’s a great event for both international and non-international students.”