Last Thursday, the Plattsburgh State Global Education Office (GEO) held their Global Cafe Caribbean Carnival in the Community H.U.B. in the Angell College Center. The event was the second in a series the office is hoping to grow as the year progresses.
The PSU GEO is comprised of three main areas — recruitment, study abroad/away and international student services.
“Global Cafe is the baby of study away and international student services,” Amanda Suriel said. Suriel is a graduate student and one of the founders of Global Cafe.
Global Cafe is designed to bring students of all backgrounds together to celebrate different countries and cultures. At the events, there are always games and food, all centered around the theme of that day’s event.
The start of Global Cafe at PSU was inspired by the experiences of a student who studied abroad for a semester. The school she studied at had their own version, and upon her return to campus, she told GEO officers about it. Now, the PSU GEO has made their own version with a “Plattsburgh spin” on it.
For the Caribbean Carnival, there was a game of Kahoot and a flag-guessing game. There were also cheese, beef and chicken empanadas served, all of which were cooked by Suriel.
“I think it’s important to have a food component,” said Suriel, “because students come for food, and it’s a talking point.”
At the event, Suriel said she would be happy to discuss the significance of the food options with students, and all of the food disappeared quickly.
The Caribbean Carnival was the second event of this semester’s series of Global Cafe events, and it was timed right around when the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival takes place. The first event was based on the Lunar New Year, and the third was to celebrate International Women’s Day.
GEO is also reaching out to other organizations and clubs on campus to potentially collaborate on events. Their goal is to branch out from what they know and learn about new cultures. The Global Cafes are meant to be a comfortable space for students to get together and share experiences.
“Our whole intention was to bridge gaps,” Ellen Miller said.
Miller is a PSU Global Education Mentor who also helped start the Global Cafes. She studied abroad in England, and it was her experiences there that made her want to encourage students to immerse themselves into new cultures.
Before studying abroad, Miller said she was painfully shy and introverted. Leaving PSU forced her out of her comfort zone, and when she returned, she was noticeably more social and comfortable in public settings.
“I can’t verbally explain how important it was,” Miller said on her experiences. “Everyone has their own takeaway, the beauty is finding your own meaningful experiences.”
The PSU GEO will be holding Global Cafes all semester on either Wednesdays or Thursdays, with a firm day of the week to be set in the future. They have three more planned and hope to continue into next school year. The officers who run it hope that students will be inspired to study elsewhere for a semester and form their own experiences.
“We like to send our students away into different experiences,” Miller said.