The third annual International Café Harvest Party was held free of charge for UNH students at the Freedom Café on Thursday, Oct. 27. International Café is a biweekly event organized by the Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) to provide a “way to invite international students to a group” and bridge the gap between the international and U.S. students, according to UNH student and CRU member Noey Struthers. Happening right before Halloween weekend, some Harvest Party attendees were in costume, including Struthers dressed as “a ‘70s girl,” and someone else as the blue power ranger.
Attendees of the event were greeted with smiles and handshakes and were offered to help themselves to a large table full of autumn themed treats, deserts and snacks. The Freedom Café was seasonally decorated and both costumed and plainly dressed students mingled. CRU staff member and UNH alum Kelsey Gilmore was instrumental in the International Café Harvest Party’s creation in 2014. She said that introducing international students to fall in New England, and all of the delicacies and foliage associated with it, was what inspired CRU to make the event.
There was more going on at the International Café Harvest Party then just socializing and free pumpkin pie. UNH student and bioengineering major Danny Courter said “life talks” are usually the main part of International Café events. During these “life talks,” students discuss the more profound and personal aspects of life that aren’t normally explicitly discussed. He said that these talks are an opportunity for students to discuss universal issues like loneliness and stress, or discuss moral questions. While CRU is a Christian organization, there is no overt religiosity or proselytization at International Café events. Instead of explicitly preaching their religious message to attendees, CRU uses the International Café to demonstrate what their beliefs look like when they are put into action. Attendees are invited to attend CRU’s regular weekly meetings on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. in room 4 of Horton Hall.
UNH international student Howard Ma is originally from Foshan, China. Ma said that he was introduced to the CRU community when Courter invited him to an International Café event a year and a half ago. After attending several more International Café events, Ma said he decided to try out CRU’s regular meetings, and has been a committed member since. Ma said that he is extremely thankful to be a CRU member. He said that the friends he has made through the organization are exceedingly nice, and that being a member of the group makes him feel loved.
Students came and went throughout the duration of Thursday night’s International Café Harvest Party. Some came for the event’s entirety, while others stopped briefly for a brownie and quick chat. It rained all evening, and piles of raincoats and wet backpacks grew and shrank as students from all over the world were welcomed by CRU to stop by for free food, friendship and shelter.