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Broaden Your Perspective With Cultural Coffee Hour

Pictured+from+left+to+right%3A+Walter+Vasanoja%2C+Zubia+Jamil+from+Pakistan%2C+and+Oliver+Vasanoja+
Pictured from left to right: Walter Vasanoja, Zubia Jamil from Pakistan, and Oliver Vasanoja

Pictured from left to right: Walter Vasanoja, Zubia Jamil from Pakistan, and Oliver Vasanoja

Sabrina Miresse

Sabrina Miresse

Pictured from left to right: Walter Vasanoja, Zubia Jamil from Pakistan, and Oliver Vasanoja

Sabrina Miresse, Staff Reporter

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The final Cultural Coffee Hour took place the evening of April 25 in the Hall of Nations. The coffee hour wrapped up the semester with a session on folktales, presented by five different international students sharing culture from Finland, Pakistan, Vietnam, and China.

The session lasted about an hour, and coffee and cookies were available for all attendees.

Wenshuo Wu, a student from China, shared with us [translated] the book of the mountain and the sea.  This book elaborates on old beliefs of how China began along with the portrayal of culture in China prior to Buddhism.

One folktale shared was, “Legend of Son Tnh and Thuy Tnh.” This was shared by Long Trinh, a Vietnamese student. The story explains the flooding seasonal patterns in the Vietnam area and honors the beautiful traits of the Vietnamese people.

Sharing folktale books speaking to China’s history, or specific stories outlining characteristics of Vietnam, the students were seemingly enthusiastic about opening up the history of their homes to other students.  “I’m glad to be telling the stories. It’s fun to tell other people about my culture,” Oliver Vasanoja shared after the session had come to an end. Oliver and his older brother Walter originate from Finland. Walter, being here for a year and a half, is going back to Finland next fall to continue his education there for free.

When asked about his time here in the U.S., Vasanoja explained that, “It was a culture shock at first,” continuing to share that he quickly realized that Americans here lack personal space boundaries in comparison to people in his country. In addition, people were always asking him how he is doing, “It took a while to get use to people being so friendly and outgoing.” Strange at first, he plans on carrying that American characteristic home with him.

One very enthusiastic speaker was Zubia Jamil, a student from Pakistan who has only been here for one semester. Jamil shared the tragic story of an old King from her city, showing photos to go along with each aspect shared. Overall, Jamil was very honored to be presenting at the Cultural Coffee Hour.

“It was really exciting to actually get to share stories about my city. It was also nice to see how excited everyone here was. I could tell by their faces that they actually wanted to know more. It’s really cool to know that people are actually open to learning about other cultures.”

A unique aspect of her country that she shared with the group is the reasoning behind their flag. Pakistan’s flag has two colors: roughly 30% white and 70% green. Jamil explained that “the white is representative of the minorities in the country because Pakistan is accepting of all people—even now.” Going back to Pakistan in just a few weeks, Jamil most enjoyed the snow while she was in Wisconsin because her city does not see snow.

Cultural Coffee Hour has wrapped up for the year with hopes to continue next fall.

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Broaden Your Perspective With Cultural Coffee Hour