Fika with Shea and Willie

There is something so refreshing about meeting someone new or catching up with a friend you’ve drifted out of touch with to actually sit down and learn what makes a person’s eyes light up. Yet, Davidson students have a knack for getting so caught up in their own groups, classes, and lives that they sometimes forget to carve out time for anyone else. But Shea Parikh ’16 and Willie MacDade ’16 want to change this.

The two seniors found themselves lamenting over this single-mindedness of Davidson students and thinking how nice it would be for us to take more time to connect with each other and broaden our social circles. They realized that, "Some of our best memories are from casual conversations we've shared with others on campus." The more Shea and Willie talked, the more they determined that students would appreciate the opportunity to expand the niches we all create for ourselves here. And so, Fika was born.

The name Fika comes from the Swedish cultural concept of fika, which at its essence is a coffee break. The Swedes love their coffee breaks, and fika increases collaboration and innovation while allowing people to slow down and form a connection. Willie, who studied abroad in Sweden, notes that, "Even during hectic workdays, Swedes prioritize the event as a way of slowing down and enjoying the company of others." Fika is different from that vague “we should get coffee sometime” promise that we are all a little guilty of making, because it is something you both take and do (it's a noun and a verb).

The project is about connections. Davidson is chock full of "amazing people on campus with extraordinary stories that we would be doing a disservice to not take the opportunity to meet as many of them as possible." And what could be better than having your first meeting over coffee?

In its first week, 80 students signed up and were paired based on loose interests and the odds that they don’t already know each other. So far as the creators have heard, it's been nothing but a success. Willie and Shea do the pairings by hand, and try their best to make matches outside of friend groups in order to broaden the community as best they can. While they would be open to trying out some kind of algorithm, for now Fika is as artisanal as you can get.

Willie MacDade '16 and Shea Parikh '16 in the PicStitch I made since I couldn't find a photo of them together.

It should be noted that Fika is meant for platonic friendships, although, Willie joked, he and Shea wouldn’t object to the news that they made an accidental romantic pairing.

If you are interested in signing up for Fika in its second week and taking 30 minutes out of your day to get coffee with a “stranger,” you can fill out the Google Doc linked here.

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