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World Student Association hosts International Dinner for students, faculty to explore different cultures

Alyssa N. Benes Photo Editor

Members of Latino Student Union eat a variety of international foods served at the WSA dinner.

Those interested in cultures from around the world bought their tickets resembling a boarding pass and prepared to see the world Saturday night. They weren’t getting ready to leave for a flight; “Around the World in One Night” was the theme at the 40th annual World Student Association’s [WSA] International Dinner in the Union ballroom.

The dinner, which about 300 people attended, took place from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and was held as a way for the WSA to kick off international education week. The event was one of the many events planned for the week of cultural celebration from Nov. 17 to Nov. 21.

“It’s a big thing we want to do because of everything that’s going on – around campus and even around the world – with issues that people are having with other cultures,” said World Student Association Vice President Kiara Esselman. “It’s just something that we try to do every year because it helps for us.”

The dinner began as students carried flags from different countries into the ballroom, followed by a speech by University President Mary Ellen Mazey.

“We’re here tonight to celebrate multiculturalism, because that’s what it’s all about in the world today,” Mazey said. “We all must appreciate each other’s beliefs, values and what we can do together to build not only this great University, but the country and the world.”

The World Affairs Council officially recognized 12 departments and international student organizations as participants of the event, including the Latino Student Union, Office of Multicultural Affairs and International Student Services. Mazey said she is proud of their collaboration.

“The students that we have here tonight have played a very, very important part of putting the entire event together,” Mazey said. “It has been their organization and we’re here to celebrate them.”

Performing at the International Dinner were 10 international student acts, including a fashion show featuring traditional clothing from different cultures, a poem by Natasha Ivery, Sri Lankan dance, reading of a Hungarian folktale and songs from The Lion King, performed by Juan Pimiento and Catheline Longoria-Perez, among others.

Food served at the dinner was an assortment of cultural staples from France, India, Africa, Italy and the Middle East.

International Student Services Assistant Director Andrea Voogd, who also spoke at the dinner, thanked the WSA and volunteers for organizing the event.

“Everyone is from somewhere, so we all have accents, right?” Voogd said. “[The WSA] are proud of where they’re from and they want to take us to a place that’s inclusive and diverse and where we can all be proud of our accents.”

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