Presenters touched on the issues surrounding immigration at the International Dinner, hosted by the Ohio University International Student Union, on Sunday.
In the speeches preceding dinner, issues like the immigration ban and the repeal of Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, were addressed. DACA was created in 2012 under former President Barack Obama to allow people brought to the country illegally as children the temporary right to live, study and work in the U.S.
“I am strong in support of our DACA students,” OU President Duane Nellis said. “The approximately 1,400 international students on campus enrich our lives every day.”
Nellis went on to mention his extensive travel and the doubling of international enrollment at his last university, Texas Tech University, during his term.
In his speech, Athens Mayor Steve Patterson emphasized how important it is for those in Athens to come together.
“At the end of the day, we're all one and the same,” Patterson said.
The International Dinner is the largest annual event ISU hosts. The dinner served an additional role this year as a celebration of the union’s 30th anniversary. Guests arrived at Baker Ballroom in their best formal dress or cultural wear.
“This year is special because we were asked to dress more formally,” Yojo Surjana, a student from Indonesia studying in the Southeast Asian Study Program, said.
Guests were dismissed by tables to dinner, which featured dishes from more than 16 countries, all prepared by members of ISU.
Parastou Roustazadeh, a member of ISU and a master's student studying public health, prepared a traditional Iranian dish called kashk e bademjan, which she was both excited and nervous for others to try.
Yohannes Berhane, a junior studying global studies - war and peace, was one of many excited for the dinner.
“I love international food,” Berhane said.
Though one performer had to cancel on short notice, Carla Triana, the president of ISU, felt members of the group adjusted well.
In her welcome, Triana, a senior studying international business, thanked volunteers, some of whom had been working since 8 a.m. to prepare food and decorations.
Several events took place during dinner, including a magic show, a Japanese dance and a video centering on the diverse experiences of ISU members, many of whom mentioned the way the union allows them to socialize and feel as though they are a part of something.
After dinner, the event concluded with the OU Percussion Club playing on the dance floor. After that, all guests and volunteers were invited to the dance floor.
Pranali Kothawade, a master's student from India studying information and telecommunications, said the percussion performance was her favorite.
“It was really nice,” she said.
The event managed to address pressing issues, and it also celebrate international students at OU and the diversity they bring to campus.
“Athens is a safe, welcoming, open city,” Patterson said.