International students unite community for feasting, entertainment

caitlinhardee

Photo Credit : Bowman

On Saturday, Feb. 27, Jewett Dining Hall was packed with students and community members, its 210 seats filled with enthusiastic feasters. The latest incarnation of the International Students and Friends Club (ISFC) International Banquet was a resounding success, with sold-out tickets and a multitude of student performers.

The strength of the event this year rested largely on a substantial amount of volunteer support from students. ISFC Co-President and sophomore Alegria Olmedo spoke the day before the banquet over the power of volunteer involvement.

“The new members of the ISFC this year have been really involved,” said Olmedo. “It has been really helpful to have, especially the freshman class of the ISFC, helping us a lot. [First-year students] were the head of the performance committee and head of the decorations committee. They are helping us with finding performances, involving themselves in the performances and helping us with the decorations and advertising.”

The banquet required extensive preparation from all involved. Olmedo detailed the process of coordinating the various aspects of the event.

“We started preparing last semester, and around the end, started asking international students who were going home to get recipes from home so we could start preparing the menu,” Olmedo said. “We work with Susan Todhunter, and she helps us with all the cooking. We have to talk to people, who wants to perform, make sure that they have a group, and that they have costumes and are practicing and they’ll have it on time.”

The event’s four main planning areas: food, performances, decorations and advertising: are overseen by four respective committees.

“We have three to five people on every committee, and several other volunteers,” said ISFC Co-President and sophomore Roshan Adhikari. “Right now for the event we have more than 30 people who are ready to help us.”

The strong volunteer turnout manifested not only in the planning teams but also in the abundance of performers for the banquet.

“We have 12 [performance acts] right now,” said Olmedo. “In the past years, I think there’s been at the most seven. Most of them are dances. There are two Vietnamese dances, a Bollywood dance, an African dance, an Indian dance, an Irish Riverdance, a tango: then we have two songs and a fashion show, people with their national traditional outfits.”

The feast included food from Colombia, India, Kenya, Japan, Australia and many other nations. Prentiss Dining Hall Manager Susan Todhunter worked in close cooperation with the students to bring this multitude of culinary ideas into reality.

“We try and pick good dishes that are within a reasonable range of what they can afford, because they use the money to do a trip on their spring break,” said Todhunter. “And they do most of the cooking. We’re there more to show them how to use the equipment to their advantage so it doesn’t take as long. It’s a lot of fun actually: we crank up the tunes. Sometimes we have 25 or 30 kids in [the kitchen] at once.”

Volunteer sophomore Pam Donohue agreed.

“I went for four hours yesterday and worked chopping stuff in the kitchen, and I did like two hours today. It was really chill,” she said.

Donohue was in attendance at the banquet and offered an enthusiastic appraisal of the evening.

“It went really well for the most part. Of course there were some little interruptions where they couldn’t find a performer or something, but for the most part it went really smoothly,” she said. “They ended the show with the gumboot dance: it’s a South African dance where you wear rain boots, and it’s all like clapping and hitting the boots. I think that was a great choice to end with.”

Fortunately, all volunteers and performers were also able to partake in the feast after the event had ended. Donohue was delighted with the delicious fare.

“There was a Japanese dish that was beef and potatoes and these noodles, and it was kind of a stew, and that was really good. And they had a really good meringue from Australia, with kiwi and strawberry and whipped cream. I personally loved all of the food,” she said.