The Conversation Cafe came to be from one college student’s challenging study abroad experience. In the fall of 2010 one of our founders, Stephanie Mings, embarked on a study abroad experience to Lithuania Christian College in Klaipeda, Lithuania. During her time there she had difficulty speaking Lithuanian or Russian to the locals, making friends and bridging the cultural misunderstandings she faced with Eastern Europe. It wasn’t until a few local students came along side Stephanie and showed her how to live in this foreign country.
Returning back to the States, she couldn’t help but notice the international students at the stores, coffee shops and libraries struggling with simple tasks like ordering coffee, asking for directions or help in the library. She knew there had to be some way she could help them but she didn’t know how. She started to inquire about these students at the English schools and local churches. Soon a few other leaders saw this problem as well and rose to the need; Tim, Lisa, Kim, and Garrett founded this vision to help international students and foreigners adapt to their new lives in California.
Our first International Conversation Café was launched on February 9th 2012 with the help of local college aged students and community volunteers. Since this launch, 30 -50 international students from various different nations around the world gather for fellowship and coffee each week. For the last 5 years we have encountered over 30 different nationalities from the Middle East, Asia, South America and Europe.
In the words of one of our volunteers; “This is more than a club or a weekly gathering. At The Conversation Cafe, fun is had, English ﬂuency is polished, cultures intermingle, conversation happens, friendships are established, and people are bonded.”