Office of diversity programs holds Un Cafecito

Participants chat over a cup of coffee at the Un Cafecito event in the Fredrick’s Museum lobby. Vanguard Photographer | Ryan Pelletier

The office of diversity programs, in collaboration with the Marshall M. Fredrick’s Sculpture Museum (MFSG), hosted their first Un Cafecito event at the museum with coffee and treats.

Vanessa Brooks Herd, a fellow in the Diversity Office, attended the event and said the goal of the event was to create a place of coffee and chatting where everyone could share stories.

“What I enjoyed the most was the interface with another culture,” Herd said. “I cherish cultural experiences and this one with food, coffee, books and the exhibit was an excellent format.”

Visitors had the option to have their stories recorded for the archive at the event. The archive of stories has been a project the MFSG has been working on since receiving the NEA Big Read grant.

“The small stories are what matter, and everyone has these stories,” Herd said. “And these conversations can be recorded.”

At the event, the hosts were able to talk about the project and start creating interest for people to have their story recorded.

Devon Waslusky, a communication specialist for the museum said it can take time to decide to record.

“While we only had one person record today, that figures,” he said. “Most people want to take the time to think about their story.”

There were many different things available to event participants, including coffee provided by Dawn of a New Day Coffee House & Café, cookies and pastries from La Estrella Del Norte and free copies of the book the House on Mango Street.

“Nine people took home a free copy of The House on Mango Street, which is the book the whole community program spreads across Bay, Saginaw and Midland county,” Waslusky said. “That was very much a win on our part because the book is such an impactful and insightful reading.”

For Waslusky, the collaboration on this event had one purpose in mind.

“The museum’s goal in working with the Office of Diversity Programs was to provide an event to the campus that would give people a chance to try out samplings of coffee from Latin American regions and to give one last hoorah to the Time Refocused: Photographs by Luis C. Garza,” he said. “It was a sort of mixer, and it also drew a little bit more attention to our NEA Big Read program and what the intentions are with that”

Andrea Ondish, MFSM’s curator of education, said the event fostered a good space for connections and conversations.

“There was a visually inspiring ambiance at the Museum for the university community and the community in attendance,” Ondish said.

The museum hosts book discussions on the book The House on Mango Street. The next one is for Teens and Adults on March 24 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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