The Center for International Programs works hard to encourage students to study abroad and help them along the way. However, some students do not know where to start when it comes to learning more about study abroad programs.
The Center has worked to create a program to encourage students to learn more about studying abroad. In Fall 2017 they were able to offer a program called “Coffee Hour: A Cultural Exchange.”
On their website it gives a brief description of the event, which reads, “Coffee Hour is a weekly informal social event created to promote social interaction and friendly conversation between American and international students: students going to study abroad and those who have recently returned to campus. The Coffee Hour is a pleasant place to meet friends and enjoy conversation and laughter with others.”
Although the event began last semester, the Center did not start Coffee Hour right away for the spring semester. The first Coffee Hour of this semester was on March 14.
The event is held every Wednesday from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Center for International Programs.
Third-year communication disorders major Jessica Carino works in The Center for International Programs as a peer counselor. Carino cannot speak in regards to last semester because she was not working, but this semester she explained that students only attend the Coffee Hour if they have appointments during that time.
Amanda Skillman the marketing coordinator, disagrees. “Sometimes we get quite intimate groups, three or four people, and sometimes it is up to about 10,” said Skillman.
Mid conversation with Carino, a group of eight friends came in.
“This is one of the largest turnouts,” Carino said.
Prior questionable turnouts could be due to a number of reasons. When looking at both their Facebook and Instagram pages, there are no advertisements of this event.
“A lot of students who are eager jumpstart into making an appointment right away, instead of coming to the Coffee Hour,” Carino said.
Nikki Surkis is a first-year early childhood education major and one of the students who has attended Coffee Hour. She came not only for her love of coffee, but to hear more information about the study abroad program. Surkis found out about the event through the New Paltz calendar of events, but had heard about it prior from tour guides and her advisor. She has never heard of anyone else attending Coffee Hour.
The location of the Center for International Programs is also hard to find.
“Kelly [a friend] was leading us here, and I had no idea where we were going. We were using the interactive map,” Surkis said.
“People don’t know where our office is located and that is definitely something we can market better,” Skillman said.
The Center for International Programs is located off of Route 32.
First-year marketing major Kelly Zorse felt that the event fell short.
“I thought it was going to be exchange students who go to New Paltz willing to talk about their experiences going abroad,” Zorse said. “There is no one here.”
Although turnouts aren’t always the highest, Silkman remains hopeful.
“It is not something everyone needs to attend,” Skillman said. “It is an open ended event that is student oriented towards our attendees,” she said.
Those working in the office will be able to help students with whatever they need. If one group that comes in is geared toward learning more about scholarships, then they will focus on that with them, while another group might want to learn more about where specifically they can travel.
Skillman also explained how Coffee Hour is meant to feel like grabbing coffee with your friends, while having many study abroad resources available to you. The more casual it is, the better sometimes. “We’re never expecting 20 students at a time, we expect five to 10,” said Skillman.
When you are at an event, you might feel uncomfortable asking questions. This event takes that uncomfortable feeling away. You can ask any and all questions.