Students and staff at Kawauchi Campus had a pleasant surprise with their afternoon coffee last Friday, as Seattle's Best Coffee at the Main Library was turned into an International Maid and Butler Café for the day.
Eight international and Japanese students dressed as maids and butlers took orders, served coffee and engaged customers in friendly conversation. Coffee patrons were also encouraged to order their drinks in English, French, German, Swedish or Japanese with the help of a translation card.
"When people drink coffee, they usually talk. So we wanted to do something that involves coffee while giving people the chance to practice speaking a foreign language," said Louisa Oettinger, an International Program in Liberal Arts (IPLA) student, whose class is behind the project.
"Then someone suggested dressing up as maids, which sounded fun. So while we are offering to speak in different languages and telling people about our different countries, we can also show a bit of Japanese culture!"
Classmate Thomas Rietbrock, who was participating as a butler, said he enjoyed the chance to talk about his own country. "The best part is when people ask me about Germany. They ask about the food we like, the coffee we drink and the customs. I'm so happy that people are interested!"
Some customers said they were initially surprised at being approached. "At first it felt a little strange to see the maids and so many foreigners talking to people. But then I got used to it, and now it's fun," said economics student Moritaka Shirai. "We ordered our coffee in Swedish. I wanted to ask for more Swedish words, but everyone was so busy so I didn't."
His friend, Haruhi Hanai, gave the event a thumbs up and a wide grin. "This is really great! If they do it again, I will of course come again!"
The International Maid and Butler Café is part of a class titled "Campus Internationalization: Intercultural Collaborative Project." Students taking the class are required to plan and execute a project that raises cross-cultural awareness and contributes to the university's internationalization.
The students will hold another International Maid and Butler Café day on Friday, June 26.
For enquires about the IPLA programme:Tohoku University Student Exchange Division
Tel: +81 22 795-3745
For media enquiries:Tohoku University International PR Section