International Coffee Hour engages students in Iraqi culture


The second International Coffee Hour of the semester was held Friday, focusing on the history and culture of Iraq. Yasameen Albasri, junior in life sciences, presented on her home country.

Albasri said it is important to her and her family to speak about Iraqi culture whenever they can because it is so underrepresented in the United States.

Albasri began with basic information on the country’s languages and religion, including the numerous churches in the city of Mosul.

“Mosul is very famous for its churches,” Albasri said. “Many of our Christian brothers and sisters live in Mosul.”

She spoke of Iraqi musicians and artists, as well as the Iraqi national football team. When the team won a championship after a bombing in the stadium many years ago, Albasri said it had a profound effect on the country’s morale.

There are many holidays and celebrations in Iraqi culture, Albasri said, including the month of Muharram. Muharram is an event to mourn the death of Muhammad’s son that people of all religions participate in.

“A lot of our great Christian brothers and sisters, they come to mourn with us and just give us support,” Albasri said.

After the presentation, the audience was invited to share popular Iraqi dishes she and her family had prepared. According to Albasri’s presentation, food in Iraq is very colorful and flavorful. Pickling foods is very popular in Iraqi culture, as well as barbecue.

“It was interesting to see how similar our cultures are,” Hawa Dembele, sophomore in biochemistry, said.

Benedicta Akley-Quarshie, masters student in drama therapy and International Coffee Hour coordinator, said her favorite part of the event is putting everything together and seeing the end result.

“This world is fast becoming a global village,” Akley-Quarshie said. “I want this event to draw people closer and realize that we are more alike than un-alike, despite all the cultural differences.”

The next International Coffee Hour event will be held Friday, Oct. 13 from 4 – 5 p.m. in the International Student Center and will feature the country of Kuwait.