Southeast Missouri State University student publication

International Village Celebrates Valentine’s Day with Coffee and Conversation

Wednesday, February 19, 2020
International Admissions Specialist Mannat Varshney shared the traditions of weddings in India, where there can be up to 1,000 guests in attendance, and sometimes more.
Photo by Emma Goodrick

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, students, faculty and staff from around the world gathered at the International Village on Feb. 14 to talk about what dating and relationships look like in different countries.

The International Education and Services department had been advertising a Coffee and Conversation event on the Living at Southeast Facebook page in hopes of creating a large group for discussion. The event also offered “light refreshments,” which consisted of cupcakes, lemonade, hot tea and coffee.

Assistant director of International Student Services Brooke DeArman served as the moderator for the discussion, with prompts prepared by Kevin Timlin, executive director of International Education and Services.

The prompts ranged from asking how young people meet in other countries to the role parents play in the early stages of dating. Those participants from countries such as Russia, India, Pakistan and Japan chimed in to share their experiences from their home countries.

DeArman said that having these types of discussion helps people understand other cultures better. “So whenever you can hear the actual reasoning or the actual history behind that, you just appreciate it more and don’t judge as much.” DeArman said.

The students were interested in learning about relationships in other cultures as well.

“It’s really interesting how people date in different cultures. Even in parts of Russia it’s quite different and I love to see the other views and mindsets of people and how they look at dates and relationships,” said Polina Ilicheva, an international student from Russia.

This is the International Education and Services department’s second Coffee and Conversation event, the first was last semester and spoke on the differences in higher education in other countries.

The department hopes to have more of these events in the future to help Southeast’s campus become more familiar with other cultures. According to DeArman, Timlin wants to find more topics that interest students, and he felt dating and relationships were appropriate topics to discuss for Valentine’s Day.

“I think it’s important to try and get to know things outside of ourselves,” Southeast senior Hayley Sidwell said. “You can’t really love people well if you don’t know or at least attempt to understand them.”

Ilicheva said it is important students continue to share their culture with each other on campus.

“The student community should be really strong in the way that people share their ideas because it’s the only way people will start to respect each other,” Ilicheva said.