The Daily Illini

University YMCA’s Cosmo Coffee Hours continue to shed light on different organizations


Caffeine, fellowship and cultural enlightenment are all brewing at the University YMCA’s Cosmo Coffee Hours.

Every Thursday night at 7 p.m., the YMCA hosts an evening to celebrate and explore a different culture that is represented on campus. This week’s event is in honor of Native American Heritage Month and will be hosted by the Native American Cultural House’s staff. 

This will be the first time the Native American House is involved in the event, according to Beverly Smith, assistant director of the Native American House. Smith said they hope to inform others about the Native American House and its role on campus, in addition to the Native American culture. 

Cosmo Coffee Hours began approximately five years ago as a heritage program from the Cosmo House. There, residents of the house would come together to prepare food and welcome guests. However, due to financial reasons the house closed and the proceeds from the sale were gifted to the YMCA in order to continue to welcome international students on campus.

Ever since, the YMCA has been interested in keeping the event because it was the Cosmo House’s signature project. But because the University YMCA is not identified as an international house, the staff seeks for Registered Student Organizations and cultural houses to prepare food and a program for each event. In return, the YMCA pays a token reimbursement for the food provided. 

“It’s a nice opportunity for cultural RSOs to have a nice event in a space that is really welcoming and that draws a pretty broad crowd of people,” said Ann Rasmus, program director at the YMCA. 

Each week a different RSO presents a program that can range from a dance, video, speaker, art, music, cultural activity or Powerpoint presentation. RSOs and cultural houses that are interested in participating should contact the YMCA as it is currently scheduling the spring events. 

Following the program, attendees are given the opportunity to get food and converse with one another as they please, Rasmus said. 

“It is a time for people to communicate over food and coffee. We are trying to give people a time to form conversations and meet new people from other cultures,” said Grace Householder, YMCA intern and senior in Education. 

Cosmo Coffee Hours are also geared to help international students practice speaking in English and offer them the opportunity to learn about a different culture that they may not have a connection to, according to Householder.

“It brings both international and domestic students together to learn more about each other,” Rasmus said. 

Through demographics and general history, Smith said they wish for the community to gain more knowledge about the Native American people, culture and issues. 

In order to reach out to students, they will be showing the film “Changing is not Vanishing,” a documentary on Carlos Montezuma, the first Native American alumnus of the University. 

Cosmo Coffee Hours are free and welcome to anyone on and off campus. Householder said the YMCA is looking to advocate diversity and community in a comfortable setting.

“We create an open space so that people are able to talk and aren’t afraid to sit down with someone random and introduce themselves,” Householder said. 

Robin can be reached at [email protected].

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