MIS’s Parent Teacher Verein (PTV) organizes a variety of different workshops and get-togethers geared toward providing transitional support to new families and community-building for new and established families. One such opportunity for parents to take advantage of are Coffee Mornings, where parents meet on-campus or off-campus and have unstructured time to socialize and share.
MIS’s Coffee Mornings take community-building a step farther by offering Coffee Morning meet-ups in multiple language groups such as Turkish, Mandarin, Ukrainian, Polish, etc. PTV Chair Jennifer O’Brien Nash says that “the tradition of having Coffee Mornings in multiple languages has been at MIS for many years. There are currently 22 Nationality & Language Groups at MIS so not everyone is covered, and we are always looking for ways to involve more people so this year we started a new N&L group called "It's A Small World". This group is for everyone, regardless of language or nationality, to come together to discover and celebrate the different cultures that are represented in our school community”.
When asked why it’s important to offer Coffee Mornings in multiple languages despite the majority of MIS families knowing English as a first, second, or third language, Svitlana, mother of MIS 5th-grader and leader of the Ukrainian Language Group points out that “even though we all speak English and some of us have been living abroad for over a decade, still we are embedded and attached to our own culture. To keep culture identity and national identity while abroad is another big point for us”.
Early Childhood parents, the Zhang family point out that if Coffee Morning meet-ups just had one large group, it would be more difficult to engage with. The advantage of smaller language and area groups are helpful in encouraging participation. In the Mandarin group today, “we were introducing ourselves to know more people here and we have Chinese Festivals, so we were discussing the schedule for the whole year. We like to keep our culture a little bit and get to know other cultures too”.
PTV Chair Jennifer O’Brien Nash sums up the intention of the Coffee Morning language groups by stressing the importance “for all families to feel connected; returning families were once new families and sometimes there is such a turnover that many returning families find themselves still at MIS and their connections have moved on. Keeping connected each year helps build new relationships as well as allowing the opportunity for returning families to pass on their knowledge and experiences. Even though we come from different backgrounds, with different cultures and languages we are all on this adventure together and it would be nice to be there for each other”.