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Multicultural Center brews discussion on diversity

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Members of Starbucks Coffee speak during the international coffee hour on Sept. 29 at the Ohio Union. Yue Wu / Lantern Reporter

Members of Starbucks Coffee speak during the international coffee hour on Sept. 29 at the Ohio Union. Yue Wu / Lantern Reporter

To take advantage of National Coffee Day, the Multicultural Center and Starbucks Coffee invited domestic and international students on Tuesday to share their hometown experiences, traditions and identities.

The International Coffee Hour program gets international students to socialize in a new cultural context.

“We invite both international and domestic students to come together and learn about food traditions, as well as talk about their own food traditions,” said program manager of Social Justice Engagement, Jasmine Mickey. “International students and domestic students don’t necessarily engage with each other, and so this program is a way for participants to have something to talk about, and we can build bridges and talk with each other more.”

International Coffee Hour also allows students to share their thoughts on diversity. Neelam Azmat, a master’s candidate in public administration from Pakistan, said learning diversity could prepare her for a career.

“With the world globalizing so fast, it is really important to understand different cultures and different people, and where do they come from and what their understanding of life is,” she said. “As a public policy major … it is very important to understand what policies you make, how they impact different people.”

Recognizing diversity can help international students fit in a different culture and OSU make a mark as an educational institution globally.

“We can’t achieve academic excellence unless our domestic students can develop global intelligence,” said executive director of the Combined ESL Program 2.0 Robert Eckhart in an email. “There are over 6,000 international students on campus, and they bring the atmosphere of globalization and internationalization with them to campus.”

Diversity can be found in the professional world as well. Individuals benefit from meeting new people, learning new things and appreciating different perspectives in the professional world, according to the store manager of the Starbucks Coffee on High Street, Mathew Bertram.

“Diversity is being talked (about) more and more, especially in large companies like Starbucks,” he said. “When students get into the professional world, it’s really important to have that awareness of comfort with being uncomfortable, and those pieces of diversity are obviously something students will find useful when they get in the professional world.”

Students also shared exceptional food experiences and learned tricks of tasting coffee taught by Allie Gehiring, a barista from Starbucks, during the meeting. The tricks included smelling the coffee first before you drink it and using different parts of your mouth to drink the coffee for a more pleasurable taste.

International Coffee Hour is one of the programs the Multicultural Center provides in an attempt to create a safe place for international students to observe and practice cultural norms.

“Multicultural Center specifically has been a safe place, especially when you come from a different culture,” Azmat said. “Multicultural Center has always been a really open place about discussing things that could offend people, about being culturally sensitive and about being genuine.”

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