Tuesday, February 24, 2009

High/Low Tea

Something out of the ordinary: I attended a high tea this afternoon at work! Well, it was called a "high tea," but it was actually an afternoon tea. Those Interwebs have just revealed to me that today's "high tea" organizers are not alone in mistakenly referring to their afternoon tea as a high tea. A high tea is a full meal served with tea in the evening; an afternoon tea or low tea is tea served around 3:00 or 4:00 P.M. with light savories (finger sandwiches) and sweets (cakes, pastries). Go search those Interwebs if you want to know more about the difference or the origins of each kind of tea service; it's kind of interesting.

Nevertheless, I joined other colleagues from across campus for some hot tea, some light sandwiches, and some cookies while we watched an excerpt from a documentary about international students' struggles to learn and use academic English at American universities. Afterward we discussed it as it pertains to our own university, whose international student population continues to rise each semester.

Sadly, some of the professors who most struggle with and/or complain about our international students' writing in English were not present at the high/low tea. Since arriving at this university, I have found that to be typical of voluntary professional development events such as this. But would it be any better to mandate that those professors attend? Knowing them, I think not!

In any case, it was good to get together with colleagues today at an out-of-the-ordinary event to discuss professional issues, even if it felt a bit as though the organizers were preaching to the choir. Perhaps attendance and participation will continue to grow with subsequent events. Hey, call it high, call it low, call it medium--as long as there's food, I'm there!

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