Coffee klatch

UGA’s International Coffee Hour celebrates four decades of caffeine and conversation

Coffee klatch

A member of UGA’s breakdance club, the Junkyard Dawgz, performs during the 40th anniversary celebration of UGA’s International Coffee Hour on Sept. 21.

UGA’s International Coffee Hour program marked its 40th anniversary with a special reception Sept. 21.

The event included international teas, coffees and food items, student cultural displays, a global fashion show, and entertainment from around the world including a steel drum soloist, an Argentinian dance exposition and breakdancing.

Food is a big part of the International Coffee Hour. Each hour highlights a different culture or nation and is sponsored by a registered student organization, university department or community agency.

For the past four decades, UGA students, faculty, staff and members of the local community have gathered on campus each Friday to celebrate international cultural diversity. As of 2011 UGA enrolled more than 2,300 students from 121 foreign countries, with the largest contingents from China (512), South Korea (391) and India (273).

International coffee hours have given the campus community an opportunity to learn about other cultures by sharing food, music, performance and conversation. Each week, a sponsoring student organization, university department or community agency highlights a different culture or nation.

Fuad Elhage, an instructor at the College of Education, and his dance partner, Frances Torres, perform a tango. The two represented the UGA Tango Club.

Jean Arias (left), a visiting Gainesville State College student, makes a new friend. The weekly event is open to both the UGA and Athens communities as a way for people from all over the world to meet in a casual setting.

“International Coffee Hour is one of the longest-running programs of its kind in the country,” said Leigh Poole, associate director of student life. “It is truly significant that for four decades, the university and local communities have come together in the same room at the same time on a weekly basis to learn and celebrate various cultures around the globe.”

Richard Reiff, former executive director of the Office of International Education at UGA, founded coffee hour in 1972. It has been held exclusively in the Memorial Hall Ballroom and has only temporarily been relocated during renovations.

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