Two Japanese International students and a professor pose after they presented the first Cultural Cafe presentation
Japanese international students Nagisa Ito and Mizuki Kuno with Professor of English Julie Bruch, PhD, presented at the first Cultural Cafe Series.


New cross-cultural experience

There are 28 countries represented by students in the Colorado Mesa International Program. Students have traveled to Grand Junction for the duration of their education from Sweden, Japan and Botswana. The new Cultural Café Series —  a partnership between the International Programs, Tomlinson Library and the Cultural Diversity Board — is designed to showcase the culture of these different countries.

Two students in conjunction with a faculty member who has lived, researched or worked abroad host the lunchtime presentation. The presenters may showcase various traditional dress, dances or food. They may also choose to present on what the education opportunities are like back home or on other current events and topics.

“’Contrasts and Contradictions in Japan’ was the guiding theme in the opening talk in the Cultural Café Series,” said presenter and Professor of English Julie Bruch, PhD. “The topics ranged from flying squid to computerized toilets and rock music played on traditional Japanese instruments. With help from Japanese students, Nagisa Ito and Mizuki Kuno, the talk also focused on unraveling commonly held stereotypes.”

Being thousands of miles away from family, friends and home for years at a time can be challenging for some international students. The International Programs Office, established a few years ago, assists students with enrollment and is developing new ways to support the growing number of international students once they are here. Especially considering the number of international students has more than doubled in less than three years.

“International students don’t have enough ways to share their home culture and traditions” said Associate Director of International Programs Annie Gingerich.  The Cultural Café Series is an outlet for these students and introduces them to faculty and the community.

Gingerich also highlights the importance international students bring to a campus by creating a more diverse study body. She said, where students from the U.S. can learn a lot just by sitting next to an international student in class.

“I think as an institution of higher learning it’s our duty to serve a global education,” Gingerich said.

The next Cultural Café Series will feature Wonder Wachara and Tibao Lesole from Kenya and Botswana along with Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Elizabeth Sharp. The presentation is Thursday, April 13, 12-1pm in the Tomlinson Library event space.

“It was ‘subarashii’ to share my love of Japan, its people, and its language with faculty, staff and students on our campus,” said Bruch. “And I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to hear about other cultures as the series continues.”

Media Contact

David Ludlam, Director of Public Relations

970.248.1868 (o)

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