Diversity is increasing at the University of Saskatchewan, and with this increase come new initiatives with the goal of bringing students together. The Global Café, established this October, is one such initiative.
The department of political studies began organizing the Global Café to create a space where students from different backgrounds can get together to talk about international interests. The Global Café meets in the last week of every month at Louis’ Loft, and they offer free coffee and snacks and good conversation.
There are over 130 student groups on campus, and many of them are concerned with and organized around international interests. Martin Gaal, a faculty member in the department of political studies, started the Global Café to bring all of these students together.
“It’s kind of a novel concept. Instead of having organized speakers or students coming together to discuss something in particular, it’s just meant to be a space for anybody with an international interest,” Gaal said.
The political studies department is working on several new international projects, including global-study certificates, which will allow students to demonstrate international competency in their area of study. However, in the midst of this internationalization at the U of S, Gaal still felt that something was missing.
“One of the things I noticed was that there wasn’t a place to bring together all these disparate groups that have an international focus but don’t really talk to each other,” Gaal said. “It would be lovely if the Latin American Women’s group talked to Amnesty International, which also talked to Intercordia, and they shared networks and alumni and contacts, kind of like an incubator.”
Gaal explains that he wants the Global Café to be a place in which students can discuss where they have been and what they want to do with their studies in the future.
“We want to draw on the experiences of our international students, people studying international studies, people who study abroad, people who want to spend time abroad and people who want to discuss options in their field for international activity,” Gaal said.
Every month, a different ratified student group sponsors the event. The upcoming event will be the second one held this year, and the organizers plan to have three more throughout the second term. If students are interested in getting involved, they can attend the events or email Gaal for more information.
Gaal believes that this kind of event gives students a broader view of the world, which is beneficial for both academic and personal life.
“I’ve felt very passionate about international affairs since my [undergraduate program],” Gaal said. “One of the most rewarding aspects of both my undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as my life in between, was just the experience [of] meeting other people and seeing a different way that the world works and challenging conceptions [that] we believe are true in Canada.”
The goal of the Global Café is to get students to broaden their horizons and challenge their perspectives about the world. Gaal believes that, especially in a place like Saskatchewan, this is an important part of education, and life in general.
“I think, not just students, but everybody kind of gets affirmed edges around their belief structures. We’re raised certain ways, we’re taught certain things, we’ve seen the world in particular ways, and bringing together people with different views and different ideas allows us to question what is and what should be.”
Lyndsay Afseth / Staff Writer
Graphic: Lesia Karlash / Graphics Editor