By Stephanie Dawber
On Oct. 9, the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) introduced World Café, a weekly event where all Bridgewater State University students, staff, faculty and community members are welcome to meet and engage in informal learning opportunities.
ISSS collaborates with different departments on campus to bring BSU interesting food and conversation. This week, the World Café joined with Program Council (PC).
Jennifer Currie, Staff Assistant for the Minnock Center for International Engagement, said, “I want everyone to know that this event is open to all Bridgewater students. It’s not targeted to one group, so everybody should feel welcome to come. Also, these are events where students can come and drop in to any one; they’re not in a series. So its not like they’re going to miss out or they would feel out of place. So they can come to one of them or all of them.”
Hosted in the Maxwell Library Heritage Room, ISSS presented the third World Café of the fall semester. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., students and faculty had the opportunity to swap recipes, try new foods and engage in conversation.
In the beginning of the event, a “Get To Know You” scavenger hunt was passed around, which prompted informal introductions among the students and faculty. The scavenger hunt encouraged participants to find individuals who fit in certain categories, such as: “Someone who shares a common country of ancestry,” “Someone who studied the same country as you,” or “A country that someone else has been to, that you would like to visit too.”
“I think one of the most important aspects of this event is the sense of community that it tries to help bring,” said senior Adam Tigges, Cultural Programs Chair of PC. “You have a lot of international students, a lot of resident students, and commuter students that don’t necessarily have the chance to meet up or get to know each other. This provides a fun, small activity-filled [event], and some refreshments for people to come and hangout, and get that community sense.”
After the scavenger hunt introductions, students and faculty were offered a free buffet of various courses and refreshments. The participants eat around a long dining room table, which encouraged conversation among students.
Senior Gianna Mazzola, the President of PC, said, “I think a lot of [The World Café] is to get to know other people around campus. To build connections between offices and Program Council, to just make friendships. Overall, I think that’s a great part to know about other peoples’ cultures, and I know we are exchanging recipes today.”
In reference to the event’s focus of culture and diversity, Tigges said, “We do focus on nationalities and ethnicities, but we also focus on subcultures. We are having a homelessness panel coming up this December. So it’s not necessarily what country you come from, but it’s your way of life, how it impacts you on campus, and basically self-identity and how it works in the perspective of a larger environment.”
ISSS and PC encourage diversity and inclusion during the World Café events. The next World Café will feature Asian Studies on Friday, Oct. 24 in the Heritage Room from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. This event will also feature free food and refreshments.
ISSS and PC have several more events coming up, so be sure to follow their events through Student Announcements.
“Come to all of them that we have. [ISSS has] about 10 cultural events this semester, so it will be a lot of fun,” said Mazzola. “There will be a lot of other PC events around campus, so make sure people check [these events] out. We have a lot of performers and open mic nights, so there is something for everyone.”
Stephanie Dawber is the News Editor of The Comment. Follow her on Twitter @StephanieDawber.