“Remember, resist and react”, a theme picked this year to remind the LGQTQIA community members of their rights on the National Coming Out Week (NCOW). Unlike their previous country-based editions, Temple’s Office of International Student Affairs dedicates the October International Coffee Hour to the celebration of the LGBTQ+ Rights around the world.
“In the past we did the English language…the rest of the coffee hours are country-focused…. but this one is topic-based…we’re focusing on exploring LGBTQ + rights around the world”, said Leah Hetzell, director of International Student Affairs at Temple University.
To give more sense to the topic du jour, Temple University’s Resource Center, the Success Center, the Office of Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership (ODEAL), and the Philadelphia Majors’ Office of LGBTQ Affairs were all represented.
Evan Thornburg, Deputy Director of LGBTQ Affairs, said this kind of event gives a chance for people to explore diversity.
“I love having close conversations …we talk about people who are LGBTQ+ and also immigrants; and also have a narrative. The fact is, it is not specifically for LGBTQ; people are layered; they’re complex. This event is explaining about that and exploring that; creating space for people to have conversations this way”, said Thornburg.
“We do policy legislation; we advise the mayor on different issues related to the LGBTQ community in a variety of ways to advocacy in the city government”. Pursued Thornburg.
The office has recently succeeded in obtaining a new police policy; “the only one in the world, that is specific to trans and non-binary folks”, according to Thornburg. This new legislation instructs the police on how to treat “trans and non-binary folks” when they are arrested.
The International Coffee Hour is a monthly event initiated by the Office of International Student Affairs to bring domestic and international students together to share coffee, tea, and explore cultural activities based on diversity. It is an opportunity for students to make friends and learn from the culture of one another.
For Leah Hetzell,, this event is all about “the passion”. It is about fostering mutual and cultural understanding between the faculty and students at Temple University.
“ International Coffee Hour was founded as a response to everything that was going on at a time…we were looking out ways of bringing international students and American students together and finding a space where the international community as a whole can come together and be with each other, network and make friends. With that in mind, we keep up with the program. Every month we’re kind of looking for what is the next country, the next topic…it’s about the passion for bringing this to life”.
Last month, the coffee hour celebrated the Brazilian culture featuring a selection of traditional Brazilian food and drink, and a performance of Afro-Brazilian martial arts ‘capoeira’.
Manuela Sobral, a Brazilian student at Temple University, thinks that international coffee hour is an opportunity to teach her culture to the faculty and other students.
“I’m an international student, and I feel very empowered when I come to the coffee hours because, like, it’s an opportunity, like, to show students and the faculty, my culture, and it doesn’t matter if I’m talking about LGBTQ or just about, like, Brazil in General. It’s, like, an opportunity to [share about] where I come from”, said Sobral.
The next international coffee hour will be dedicated to Korea, confirmed Ms. Hetzell and her Assistant, Marena Arriffin. The event will take place during the “You are Welcome Here” week, Tuesday, November 5.
“We’ll be back down here again; same time, same place; so, we make it easy for people to remember … and then, in spring we’ll have monthly coffee hours as well… we’ll love to have more participation. We want to spread the world and make sure everyone knows they’re invited; free coffee, free cookies, free cultural exploration. We’re doing this for everyone’s benefit”, concluded Ms. Hetzell.