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Student Raises Awareness of Global Coffee Production

Polina Khoroshevskaya, McPherson College International Student Association

An environmental science class inspired McPherson College student Polina Khoroshevskaya to make a global issue relatable to other students and the campus community. Along with the McPherson College International Student Association (ISA), she recently hosted a global coffee tasting event to raise awareness about the global impacts of coffee production and to raise funds for both local and global charities.

“Since I was little, I have always wanted to find ways to help others,” Khoroshevskaya said. “The environmental science class really opened my eyes to the issues surrounding global coffee production and trade.”

Khoroshevskaya is a senior majoring in business administration: finance and accounting and was surprised when she learned that despite coffee’s rank as the second most traded commodity after oil, most of its producers struggle to make a living for their families and farming practices put in place to keep up with demand are destroying critical ecosystems.

“I’m a big coffee person,” she said. “So I started working with my professor (Dustin Wilgers) on an idea for an international coffee tasting event on campus that would engage our students and the community.”

She is president of the McPherson College ISA and thought utilizing the organization and its members to host the event would be a good fit. It was also important to her and the members to purchase the coffee directly from farmers or organizations that give the highest percentage of profits to farmers.

“It was important to us that we used trusted companies that support coffee growers and support how the coffee is produced,” Khoroshevskaya said. “We did a lot of research to find the best places to purchase the coffee we served.”

Coffees from Ethiopia, Mexico, Columbia, Ecuador, and Congo, as well as tea from South Africa, were served. ISA members were also on hand to give their opinions on the coffee and talk about their home countries.

“Polina is an ideal McPherson College student,” Dustin Wilgers, associate professor of biology, said. “Her leadership skills were on display as she organized and developed the event very independently. It was fun seeing a student be inspired by a classroom activity enough to share the ideas with others on campus.”

ISA is hoping to host another similar event before the end of the semester and donate funds to Kiva, a small organization that allows people to give microloans to entrepreneurs in other countries to help support their business and get them the funds they need. Members are also considering several local charities to support.