Starbucks: A Glimpse of a Failed Attempt to Build Community in an American University. Essay examples

Submitted By alexandraess
Words: 1041
Pages: 5

As anyone may assume, Starbucks is a place to go and get a hot coffee accompanied with a morning bun and have a seat with friends while one relaxes enjoying the scene of interactions among other consumers. However, for some it is and for others it is not. When arriving to the university as an international student, I felt very excited to experience this franchise because its seemingly endless lines sometimes reach the outside of the store on occasions which is astonishing to me. In my native Venezuela there is no store such as Starbucks. As Starbucks mission statement on its website indicates: “When we are fully engaged, we connect with, laugh with, and uplift the lives of our customers – even if just for a few moments.” (starbucks.com) Nevertheless, what I personally experienced in my multiple visits to Starbucks was not in accordance to the image that Starbucks portrays. Instead of being an integrated community, it was filled with ethnically composed separate groups and isolated people.
Starbucks provides a wonderful and open ambience for people to meet and chat but some groups rather talk with the people they belong with than to open up to new friendship prospects. As I observed, there was a long line but it did not take more than five minutes for me to get from number 14 on the line to the cashier. Everyone in the line who was by themselves was either on their smartphones or paying attention to a book, while others who were accompanied by friends were engaged in conversations on diverse subjects such as social activities or academic work. What I saw was that as people received their coffee, they sat into groups formed with people from their own culture, religion and race with some few exceptions; this being contrary to the ideals of the university on encouraging friendship between different individuals of a variety of races, religion, sexual orientation and other characteristics that qualify people as diverse. The University needs to see that perhaps their ideal is too much to ask for a situation like this.
As I reflected on everything I had seen, I noticed that the groups formed were culturally separated. The first group I noticed, primarily because of the language they were speaking and the volume of their tone, were Hispanics. I approached them silently to overhear the conversation they were having. They were immersed in a very enthusiastic conversation involving arm and hand gestures. Six girls were in this group and from my ability to recognize their accents, two were Colombian, three were Venezuelan and the other one was Ecuadorian. As they were talking one of the Colombian girls saw a girl she knew possibly from one of her classes and said “Hey Katie!” in English, whereas Katie waved back and left the store. After this happened, the girl who had waved to Katie made a face that expressed she was glad that Katie had not stayed there with them. A similar thing happened when observing a group of Arab girls on another table who were speaking Arabic in a fast pace and were barely looking for other people to socialize with. What was happening and what I perceived was that many times a homogeneous group tends to be closed in accepting new people in their group and this is because they don’t want to change their ways in order to let someone into their “clique”. The crowd in the store was as diverse as the University of Miami community but the small groups that formed within were as culturally filtered as they could be, which I believe reflects the reality of wanting to socialize with different people but at the same time not wanting to feel like an outcast.
When arriving to Starbucks to continue observing at 6:30 pm for signs of diverse communities, what I saw was that instead of there being little groups, each and every table was occupied with only one person deeply focused on their smartphones, laptops or Ipads doing schoolwork and not even rising their head to…