Chai. Earl Grey. Caramel.
Whatever your choice of tea, the Kawasaki Reading Room welcomes everyone to try new flavors and connect to Japanese culture as part of its weekly Tea Time Friday program.
Every Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Huskers can pick up a flavored tea and a snack outside the doors of the reading room, which is located on the third floor of the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center. Members of the campus community have the option to stop by quickly to grab their tea, or stay longer and explore the reading room’s quiet study space, craft workshops or more than 7,000 books on Japanese culture, history and language.
Madoka Wayoro, director of the reading room, encourages any student, regardless of whether they study Japanese or have Japanese heritage, to try Tea Time Friday. And while she hopes Huskers explore the reading room’s resources in addition to picking up tea, she especially hopes they feel comfortable enough to relax there.
“They’re so stressed and having a hard time with classes,” Wayoro said, “but I want this place to be a safe place where people can drop by, relax, talk to me if they need to.”
Some students, Wayoro has observed, started coming to Tea Time Friday for a weekly treat but ended up staying longer to make new friends or get involved with the reading room. Joe Vlach, a senior economics major, has been trying new flavors each Friday since his freshman year.
“My favorite part of Tea Time Friday is its low-key atmosphere,” Vlach said. “Some days I’ll talk a lot and play games with friends; other days I’ll relax and read a book. The ability to do something different each week but still enjoy the same atmosphere is what I think makes Tea Time Friday really unique.”
Once Vlach got hooked on the weekly event, he explored the room’s resources further by teaching himself Japanese from a textbook. The Japanese language is one of his strongest passions now, and he said it’s given him countless opportunities.
As the semester continues, Wayoro has many plans in mind on how to welcome students to the tea times. On March 4, she’s hosting a celebration for Hinamatsuri, or Japanese Girls Day, and will have tea and an essential oil blending activity available. She’s also hoping to start offering the option for students to enjoy brewed tea together in-person, which hasn’t been possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However the future pans out, Wayoro hopes students see the value in attending.
“This is just a place students can come and relax, like an oasis in the desert,” Wayoro said.