International Student Union hosts their biggest event of the year with food, dance and eclectic cultures.
There’s a reason the International Dinner is declared the most popular dinner of the year, and last week’s turnout in Baker University Center Ballroom can prove it.
The event sold 300 tickets, as one of the kick-off events for Ohio University’s International Education Week. Tables of students, community members and international organizations were packed to attend an event OU’s International Student Union had been planning since the beginning of the semester.
Within ISU, their 30 organizations pulled together a menu of 18 different dishes and three different culture performances for guests. The event was sponsored by International Student and Faculty Services.
“The tickets sold out within three, technically, four days,” said Annie Dievendorf, a graduate assistant for ISFS. “It’s hard because this event is huge, and it’s really reached a point where there’s not any room for it to get any bigger.”
The ballroom’s maximum capacity of 400 people was used to its advantage. But even with such a large venue, the high demand for tickets could not have been accommodated.
“This year, I think is the most interesting thing to me is we had three different Learning Communities buy tickets together,” Dievendorf said. “I think that was one of the ways that were able to reach out and generally reach more domestic students. I was excited about that.”
Lorna Jean Edmonds, vice provost for Global Affairs and professor of health sciences and professions, spoke at the event asking which people in the crowd were domestic students and who were international students in the crowd. The hands raised by the guests faired out to be about half and half.
Outside the ballroom, this was the first year some organizations had booths set up with various activities available for guests. The Japanese Student Association had an origami station as Unicef and African Student Union also had a booth with coloring pages for guests if the event was running late, which was not the case.
“We started on time, and for an event this big, that’s something to be said,” said Nick Brumfield, a senior and programming coordinator of ISU.
The program consisted of a poetry performance by Botswanan native Keith Robert Phetlhe, a Palestinian instrumental and vocal duet by Rasha Sansur and Faisal Saleh and a five-member Turkish band from Columbus. The music led to unbashful dancing at various tables as the whole room clapped.
The 18 organizations who provided a dish for the dinner designated cooks who started their preparation at 8 a.m. on Saturday and did not finish until 4 p.m.
“As a member of (Black Student Cultural Programming Board), we’re trying to show support for ISU since they’ve been really good to us. I’ve been here two years in a row. Last year was with my Learning Community,” said Jeffrey Billingslea, a sophomore studying political science.
Dievendorf said it was an effort brought together through hard work of many different organizations on campus.
“It’s not a money-making event for us,” said Dievendorf. “It’s driven by all of the organizations and it couldn’t be done without them. It’s a truly amazing event.”