Cultural Cafe highlights Japanese, Scottish cultures


Students enjoy conversation during the Cultural Café’s intermission on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. The last Cultural Café of the semester features two speakers representing their home coutries of Scotland and Japan. A Scottish student and a Japanese student chose two dishes each to represent the food of their culture.

Alec Slovenec

“What is the concept of the Cultural Café?” asked Marcello Fantoni, associate provost to the Office of Global Education. “I think the Cultural Café is a perfect opportunity for everyone to say who you are, where you come from … but above all, to assert who you are as part of a society in a world that should embrace difference.”

On Wednesday the OGE hosted its second Cultural Café of the semester in the Student Center Ballroom. Each month, the event features two countries. Guest speakers give presentations on the countries, and Kent State Dining Services offers free food from the featured countries.

This month, Japan and Scotland were featured. At the door, mini Scottish and Japanese flags were given out to attendees, as well as pins and FlashPerks. The event was organized by coordinator Delaney Graybill.

The event began with Fantoni giving a light-hearted speech about his experience with the countries.

“I have two very different experiences in Japan and Scotland. In Japan, I was in Tokyo when an earthquake hit. And in Scotland I got engaged with my wife. I don’t know if they are that different,” Fantoni quipped.

Following Fantoni’s short message, Haruhide Osugi, a teaching assistant at Kent State, gave a presentation about Japan. His slideshow featured information about the country’s economy and culture. Osugi said Japan has the third largest economy in the world, and he touched on Japan’s creation of anime, karate and sushi.

Osugi also talked about various Japanese festivals, accompanied with pictures. Japan has a plethora of holidays, ranging from Daimonji, a day to honor deceased loved ones, and the Cherry Blossom festival, a time of celebration and appreciation for spring.

Following Osugi, Eilidh Thomson, recreation, a park and tourism management major, presented Scotland. Thomson, who was born in Scotland, began with the country’s history with the United Kingdom and how the nation united with England in 1707.

She talked about Scotland’s traditions of eating haggis, seeing the Loch Ness Monster and the invention of golf.

She then talked about the general demeanor of Scottish people.

“We’re very friendly and sarcastic people,” Thomson said. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously. If we joke around with you, it’s just what we do. I offended a lot of people the first day I got here.”

Between Osugi and Thomson’s presentations, Japanese and Scottish foods were served to everyone in attendance. Kent State Dining Services offered sushi and Japanese donuts along with Scottish pie.

This was the last Cultural Café of the semester, but there will be more next fall. The OGE plans on continuing the Cultural Café events in order to educate students on the world outside of what they are used to.

“Differences should not (just) be acceptable and welcome,” Fantoni said. “Difference should be seen as the essence of education …. We need to understand that we learn from differences. If we would not be different, there would not be much left to learn from each other.”

Alec Slovenec is the university diversity reporter, contact him at [email protected].