Student organizations meet their match at Harmony Café

Naveed Islam

(Karl Hailperin)

Student group members and leaders from organizations in the Appleton community were invited to Harmony Café Oct. 27 for an event titled “Meet Your Match,” sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Campus Life.
Assistant Program Coordinator for Harmony Café Carolyn Armstrong ’10 recalled her efforts to raise awareness for the Haiti earthquake during her time as a student at Lawrence and of the help she received from Appleton groups and local businesses.
Armstrong asked the students, staff and community members in attendance to use each other as resources and come up with creative and exciting ways to work together in the spirit of Lawrence’s goal of innovating through collaboration.
Students from groups such as Amnesty International, Greenfire and the Muslim Students’ Association participated in the program to meet with various organizations in the Fox Valley including Towards Community, African Heritage and Casa Hispana.
Representatives from student clubs were given seven minutes to speak with each community group, during which they were asked to discuss their goals and how they could help each other.
Ormsby Hall Director and Diversity Center Program Coordinator Rose Waiselewski likened the format to “speed-dating” between 18 different clubs and organizations from Lawrence University and the Fox Valley. Harmony Café was chosen as the venue for its unique position between campus and the world outside the Lawrence bubble.
Armstrong explained that at the end of each seven-minute period a bell would ring, signaling that the next round of conversations were about to begin. Students were first seated with groups whose common interests matched their own and would be able to return to this table once all nine rounds had been completed.
A sign-up sheet was passed around to compile a mailing list that will be available at the Office of Multicultural Affairs for groups to consult and utilize to continue partnerships. Groups began by introducing themselves and their past involvement in helping with and organizing events within their respective communities.
These introductory discussions provided opportunities for students to learn of groups in Appleton they may have previously been unfamiliar with and get caught up to speed on each organization’s recent activities and upcoming events. Appletonians were eager to help these students with their ventures and come up with ideas that would be mutually beneficial for both parties involved.
Many student leaders were able to develop connections with groups they didn’t expect to find anything in common with and whose interests didn’t match their own. Appleton organizations were eager to include events planned and hosted by students in the Lawrence community in their group emails and newsletters in order to help with advertising.
The members of the Appleton organizations also encouraged students to use resources and venues available in Appleton through their past experience of hosting events in these spaces and gaining meaningful feedback from Appletonians who attended.
The Office of Multicultural Affairs will continue to host such events in order to close the gap between the campus community and the Fox Valley. Student organizations were encouraged to keep in touch with their “match” through email and to collaborate on planning and promoting events in the upcoming year.