By Alyssa Pawluk
Last Friday, the students at Youngstown State University were invited to the first annual international student “coffee hour” at University President Jim Tressel’s home on campus.
Tressel said that the event started as a result of a discussion with Phyllis Beard, the host of the international student coffee hour.
“We were with the international students at a little pre-Thanksgiving event at the Beard residence, and we were talking with a lot of the kids and said ‘We ought to have a little something at the president’s home,’” Tressel said.
International student coffee hours have been held every Friday at different locations on campus, but this event was the first to be held in the home of the university president.
There are more than 100 international students on campus and all were invited to attend the event.
Students that attended the event were from all over the world. Maram Almaraihah, an international student from Jordan, came to the university to study business, and she is currently a pre-business major.
“Every week I go to the coffee hour. I like YSU. It is a good school to study at,” Almaraihah said.
Desmond Appiah, a YSU student originally from Ghana, attended the coffee hour to make new friends.
“We mingle with each other, talk to each other and make friends. We exchange culture. I learn about your culture, you learn about mine,” Appiah said. “That’s why I’m here … to make new friends from all over the world.”
Antdi Aijanen, a psychology major at YSU from Finland, said that he went to the last coffee hour at the YWCA.
“I went to the coffee hour at the YWCA building. That was nice and I met a lot of new people, and when I heard that the coffee hour was here [Tressel’s residence] I just wanted to see the building,” Aijanen said. “I’ve heard a lot about this building and I thought that it would be beautiful, and it was even more beautiful than I had thought.”
Musha Guntaka, an international student at YSU who is studying for her master’s in computer science, uses the events as a means for sharing her experiences via social media with friends in her home country.
“It is my first time attending the coffee hour, and I feel so bad I missed the other coffee hours. … I would like to come to [more],” Guntaka said. “I [will] tell all my friends and everyone about them, and I can post my pictures so that they can [see] what YSU is like.”
Tressel commented positively on the turnout of the event.
“It’s great because we want everyone on our campus to feel welcome, especially when you are a long way from home,” Tressel said. “Here we are on a Friday afternoon, they get a little something to eat, they can have a relaxing weekend, and I’m excited about what is happening.”