Coffee hour connects students

By Gus Bode

The international coffee hour remains a cultural intersection at SIUC, providing students a break by offering free coffee and conversation.

Students – both international and local – and community members attend the weekly gatherings to discuss different cultures, meet new language partners and practice foreign languages, said Bob Hall, coordinator of international coffee hour. Hall said the university offers several services to international students, but the most popular is the coffee hour.

‘If I look around here, I see lots of students that have been coming (to coffee hour) for several years,’ Hall said.


The coffee hour is an informal event open to students and community members from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Friday at the international programs and services office.

Several organizations sponsor the function despite the difficulty in finding them, Hall said.

‘We would like to see more student groups get involved,’ he said.

Volunteers brought fresh fruit and snacks while Common Grounds coffee shop owner Jason Bourgue donated the coffee. Bourgue said he’s happy he can give back to the coffee-drinking community.

Kwang Sub Son, a senior from South Korea studying business, said he started attending coffee hour two years ago, and he received a scholarship by networking at the social.

‘I have met a lot of friends, and I understand more about other cultures communicating with each other,’ Son said.

While the coffee social has seen several successful years, the language exchange program needs more speaking partners, said Elaine Conrad, community programs coordinator.


Conrad was thrilled to see so many people at the coffee hour, but said there is a shortage of English-speaking students involved in the language exchange program, and she would like to see more.

Conrad said students are matched according to interests, and it’s a great way to build friendships.

‘Often people find they have more in common than they thought,’ Conrad said.