International Coffee Hour provides perspective on culture


International Coffee Hour invites students to listen to presentations on countries and their diverse cultural heritages. Collegian file photo/ Roe Borunda

The International Coffee Hour, a weekly event in the Henry Madden Library that takes you around the globe, starts Tuesday.

Coordinated by the International Student Service Program, the event is a series of presentations on countries and their diverse cultural heritages.

Organizer Paul Yunouye, a foreign student advisor at Fresno State said Coffee Hour is celebrating its 20th anniversary on campus this year.

“We began in spring of 1993,” Yunouye said. “Many campuses have tried something like this, but it’s really unique how we’ve gained popularity. Just in fall 2012, we had 360 total participants. By spring 2013, we had 845. So we’re growing.”

Coffee Hour is a way for the presenters to inform their audience about the countries they represent. Speakers are usually international students, but faculty and anyone interested in international affairs can present as well.

This fall’s presentations are on Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Iran, China, South Korea, Mexico, Japan, Eritrea and Malaysia. There will also be an International Education Week event in November featuring unique presentations on California and students’ study abroad experiences.

Yunouye said the event is an arena where the community can learn about other parts of the world in a relaxed environment with refreshments provided. All students and faculty from Fresno State, as well as community members, are welcome to attend.

“It’s a good mix of people,” Yunouye said. “It’s only an hour, but it’s amazing what kind of connections you can make.”

Anthony Nwangwu is the student coordinator of the event this year. He said Coffee Hour is an essential event on campus because it is the one program where students across the globe meet, socialize and learn to appreciate cultural differences.

“They can hang out with old friends, make new friends, and enjoy a free cup of coffee and snacks for lunch,” Nwangwu said. “At the same time, students get first-hand information about different countries.”

While the promise of coffee and snacks may reel people in, Yunouye said students are often surprised at what they get out of the experience.

“It’s a new perspective on who you have around you,” he said. “Oftentimes in class, you might be sitting next to someone but you’ll never know where they’re from or what their background is. Coming to Coffee Hour, you get to find that those students might be from half a world away. You get to learn about them.”

Coffee Hour will be held every Tuesday beginning Sept. 10 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in room 2206 of the Henry Madden Library.