GC dines abroad from within Magnolia Ballroom
International students present the 33rd annual International Dinner
Over 120 students had the opportunity to enjoy a night filled with food, dances, colors and performances from all over the world at the International Dinner on Saturday, March 10.
The GC International Club and the International Education Center began preparing for the event more than three months in advance. The dinner coordinator, Jarris Lanham, worked hard to organize the event.
While setting up Magnolia Ballroom the day before the dinner, students were laughing and joking together, the feeling of true friendship present in the room.
The sensation of feeling at home was also perceivable. Despite living oceans way from where they grew up, the international students found a sense of home with each other. Many guests come back every year because they build strong connections with the students and are happy to see them perform and share their culture.
“The whole idea behind the International Dinner is celebrating diversity and cultures from all over the world,” Lanham said. “I love working with the students and seeing how much they all care about this. My favorite part is the evening itself, after many hours of hard work and organizing are done. The goal is to [work] out all the kinks, so the students can enjoy themselves while putting on the event.”
The theme for this year’s dinner was Latin America. Volunteers filled the room with colorful handmade paper flowers. Students carefully created yellow, pink and bright blue decorations to put all over the room.
Guests were immersed in the Latin American fusion atmosphere. Latin American songs and other foreign melodies played throughout the first part of the dinner while guests were getting food.
Magnolia Ballroom was filled with strong scents and foreign flavors as guests and participants tried a variety of foods from over 50 countries while watching students performs on stage.
The food had been passionately prepared by the international students. Taiwanese student Christine Huang prepared wontons, a type of dumpling made with pork, for more than 200 people.
“I have been cooking since this morning at 11, and I think I will have to continue at least until midnight,” Huang said on Friday night before the dinner.
A food committee was put together in order to help Huang and all the other students gather the necessary ingredients and spices that they needed for their dishes. The night before the event, the committee helped students find available kitchens where they could prepare their food. The committee also helped transport the food to Magnolia Ballroom.
Huang participated in the talent show as well. She and three friends from Russia, South Korea and Thailand decided create a dance performance that represented each of their cultures. During the dance, people felt as if they traveled across the world in just a couple of minutes.
“We usually have about 10 acts, so we can’t take all interested students, unfortunately,” Lanham said. “After the acts are selected, they practice on their own for a few weeks, and then we have a dress rehearsal the night before the dinner. The last few years, we’ve been abundantly blessed with talented students. Tonight, a faculty member asked if we require all incoming international students to sing or dance. She was joking, of course, but we do have some very talented students.”
Guests enjoyed a talent show and a fashion show organized entirely by the international students.
The International Club is comprised of both American and international students. Many American students have joined the organization to expand their knowledge of new cultures and to make friends from all over the world.
Christopher Nedza, a student from Watkinsville, Ga., performed in the first half of the show.
“I joined the club because every day I enjoy being able to talk to different people with different backgrounds,” Nedza said.
Nedza impressed the audience with his piano performance during the talent show.
“This is the first time I participate in such an amazing event,” Nedza said. “I’ve been preparing my performance for about three months. I have three songs that I want to play, and I just decide at the moment which one I want to play first. I don’t really have a set plan.”
Susie Ramage, one of the International Club’s advisors, said that the dinner is one of her favorite events to be a part of.
“I’m the lucky one,” Ramage said. “I get to be part of this and get to know so many amazing and talented students. We all work extremely hard for this, and it’s always such a joy being able to see how the night turns out and receive compliments from all the guests.”
The event brought members of the local community and the International Club together. Guests could see the passion and effort that the International Club put into the dinner.
The International Dinner raises funds for scholarships for international students, which help them study at GC. The event also helps them feel more at home by sharing their culture with the GC and Milledgeville community.