Thomas Esterhuyse found the first snowfall of the season in Columbia somewhat ironic.
A light coat of white blanketed Columbia College’s main campus Tuesday, Nov. 15, the same day the junior shared his native culture with fellow students during International Coffee Hour at Dulany Dining Hall.
“It’s actually perfect timing – the first day of snow, it’s the coffee hour of South Africa,” Esterhuyse said. “But it looks like it’s meant to be. Listen, what’s going on outside, that doesn’t happen in South Africa. We have cold days, but not compared to this.”
Esterhuyse demonstrated some fundamentals of cricket, a popular sport in his home country, and allowed attendees to play a miniature version.
He also shared snacks, drinks and music during the event to spotlight a taste of his homeland.
The coffee hour occurred on the second day of International Education Week, a week celebrated around the United States and the world as a joint initiative of the U.S. departments of state and education.
Coffee hours, a longstanding CC tradition, are held monthly to highlight various countries and regions.
Senior South African student Lindokuhle Zwane helped Esterhuyse plan the festivities.
Esterhuyse, a student worker in CC International Student Services, worked with that office to order treats such as Romany Creams (chocolate coconut biscuits); EET-SUM-MORs (shortbread biscuits with chocolate chips); South African coffee; and his favorite tea, which he said is best paired with honey.
All photos by Strategic Communications Graphic Designer & Photographer Abigail Wade.
In addition to last week’s coffee hour, a special edition of Lunch Beyond Borders was held on Thursday, Nov. 17, at Dulany Dining Hall for students of all backgrounds to share a meal and have a casual discussion.
There are 70 international students and 25 countries represented on CC’s main campus, said Megan Moonfall, coordinator of international recruitment and support.
Overall, the college has 181 international students from 39 different nations.
“Every week is International Education Week for us,” Moonfall said, “but this week is just the one week that we like to take to make sure everyone knows what we do and who our students are.”
The importance of International Education Week extends to American-born students as well.
“It’s really important that our domestic students take time to recognize how many international students are around them in their classes and on their sports teams,” Moonfall said. “I think sometimes we forget that these students come from really special and unique places and add a lot of flavor and excitement to our campus.
“(This week) is also great because not only is it focusing on the international students who are here, it’s also promoting our domestic students to study abroad, reminding them that it’s important to get an international education.”
Esterhuyse transferred to CC after spending two years at a community college in Iowa, his first destination after leaving his hometown of Paarl in the Western Cape province of South Africa.
He is majoring in international business and is a member of the Cougar men’s golf team.
“I feel really comfortable here,” Esterhuyse said of CC. “The first thing that really got my attention is when I walked into my room, I think it was like 11 p.m., there was a welcome basket with toothpaste, blankets, pillows, everything. It’s something small, but it’s so helpful, and immediately I told my parents, ‘I’m going to sleep well tonight.’”
Esterhuyse encouraged the campus community to attend future coffee hour events.
“Just try it out once,” he said. “I think if you go once, you’ll see how fun it actually is. We have a lot of people coming, but there could be way more.”