Coffee Language House unites students of different cultures through food, foreign languages

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By Nicole D’Costa
For Mitzpeh
@ndcosta622

Every Monday, members of the Language House have coffee conversations where they gather to speak their representative languages and enjoy snacks from different cultures. Each week, a different culture has the spotlight on it with food from that particular culture like Mexican, Italian, Arabic and Japanese.

This week, the Hebrew cluster sponsored Israeli snacks for students to try, like pita with hummus, dates and halva. Students were able to try the different Israeli foods and speak in Hebrew.

In these coffee chats, students are welcome to improve or maintain their foreign language skills in a casual setting over coffee and snacks. The chats also give students the opportunity to meet native speakers of each language and find conversational partners with the same proficiency level as them.

The foods served at the Coffee Language House had descriptions on them, which helped students of all backgrounds understand them more. Nicole D’Costa/Mitzpeh.

Dr. Douglas Glynn, the director of the Language House, said the coffee chats have been going on for many years; however, they only started doing the cultural spotlight this semester.

Glynn said he thinks the students have really liked the idea of the cultural spotlight that has been added.

“Our idea was to bring students in to snack, and they stay to chat. By offering some hospitable food, students are able to try things they wouldn’t have ever tried before,” Glynn said.

The members also participate in a best-tasting competition, where they vote on which snack they liked the best. Depending on the week, the amount of students that come can range from around 70 to 120 attendees.

Sophomore Faith Chisholm, a Letters and Sciences student, is part of the Language House Immersion Program, a living-learning program on campus. She gets to practice speaking a different language because of where she lives, but not all students get this opportunity.

Chisholm thinks these coffee chats are great because students who aren’t in a language house get the opportunity to practice a foreign language.

“If you’re taking a French class … only two times a week, then you’re not really getting the actual practice,” Chisholm said. “This allows you to come here and just practice to get better.”

Liuan Yang, a second-language acquisition masters student, volunteers at the coffee chats every week. She thinks it’s a great program but would want to see students from various majors come.

“I feel like most students who come here are language majors or minors,” Yang said.

Sophie Bruskof, a sophomore business major, went to the Language House coffee chat for the first time since she has strong ties to her Jewish heritage and wanted to see what Israeli snacks were offered.

“I think this program is a great way for students to be immersed in different cultures as well as show their own to other students,” Bruskof said.

Bruskof doesn’t get a chance to practice her Hebrew, so she said this is a great way for herself, along with other students, to not lose touch of the languages they learn.

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