First international coffee hour proves successful

Women's Center hosts first event concerning international student's issues

By: Andrew Soltis

Posted: 7/29/09

By Andrew Soltis

The Summer Barometer

Women from around the world gathered at the OSU Women's Center last Friday for the inaugural International Women's Coffee Hour, the first of such events that the center will be hosting in the terms to come.

According to Beth Rietveld, director of the Women's Center, the focus of the center is on exploring the lives of women and providing services to women on-campus and in the community.

She stated that while the center concerns itself with a number of individual and societal subjects, its main focus is on issues that chiefly effect women, such as breast cancer, motherhood or birth control.

Furthermore, international women students have their own unique concerns that would likely go unaddressed without the resources at the Women's Center.

"These women are our primary audience during the summer months," Rietveld said.

With this in mind, the idea of the International Women's Coffee Hour was born.

The meeting is the brainchild of Fatima Almousawi, who hopes that the center will be able to host it every other week.

Almousawi is a general science major and an international student from Saudi Arabia in her third year at OSU.

The Coffee Hour provided a forum for women to discuss various issues ranging from life in the U.S. as it compares to life in their home countries to effective studying methods.

"What are some aspects of American's lifestyle that you appreciate or admire and would like to take with you back home?" Almousawi asked to the group in order to get the conversation started.

Almousawi said she admires the time management discipline that Americans seem to posses.

"You can see a person with two jobs on top of taking classes and they still arrive on time and appear organized," she said of some of her peers at OSU.

Others observed that American women tend to remain comparatively active and involved even into their later adulthood years by simultaneously holding jobs, raising children and pursuing degrees.

About midway through the Coffee Hour, Almousawi redirected the conversation by requesting that the women begin to share aspects of living in America that have been difficult for them to cope with.

"Traveling from city to city can be challenging because public transportation often deviates from its schedule, or is just too expensive," said Cynthia Maharani, a student from Indonesia studying public policy.

She said she usually navigates Corvallis via the bus or her bicycle.

Several of the women commented on drastic dietary changes they have endured since living in the U.S.

"When I am back home, I eat each meal in my own house, but I cannot do that here," Almousawi said. She spoke of how complicated it is to prepare traditional food as she cannot always find the necessary ingredients in stores here in the U.S.

"Regardless of issues facing students and faculty on-campus, we can help get students the information they need, when they need it," Rietveld added. "We don't send people to a bunch of different places."

The Women's Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.