A night of cultural appreciation: SCISO’s 37th annual International Potluck

On April 26, the St. Kate’s International Students Organization (SCISO) held its 37th annual International Potluck in the Rauenhorst Ballroom. The International Potluck is a fun event held at St. Kate’s every year filled with tasty global dishes, nonstop entertainment and an educational experience. This year’s potluck was especially important since a tribute to Nelson Mandela was presented, honoring all he had accomplished in his lifetime .

The event started off with music playing as St. Kate’s students marched across the ballroom holding flags representing different countries. The students then went on stage and told the crowd what country they were representing. Rhea Nambalirwa ‘15, a financial economics major with a business minor and current president of SCISO, said that this has been one of the most successful potlucks they have ever had.

“One of the reasons why this year’s International Potluck was so successful was because this year SCISO was able to get a DJ,” said Rhea. “The DJ made for better entertainment.”
The night began with students and guests going through the potluck line and filling their plates with foods from all over the world. Dishes varied from Spanish rice to potato dumplings, from orange salad to rice pudding. The choices seemed endless. One thing was for sure, no one was leaving the event hungry.

Shortly after everyone finished their meals, the entertainment began. The entertainment consisted of a hip hop dance put on by St. Kate’s Hip Hop Club, an Indonesian dance, poetry, a Myanmar dance, a Vietnamese song, a Namibian dance, a piano and violin duet, an Ethiopian dance, a Nigerian song, a Latina dance mix, a Somali dance, spoken word, a flamenco and a South-East Asia medley dance. It’s safe to say that entertainment for the night was anything but dull.

Ngoc Nguyen (Emi) ‘15, a communications major with a graphic design minor, sang a song called “Em trong mắt tôi,” which in Vietnamese means “You in My Eyes.” Two other St. Kate’s students, Linh Nhu and Emily Phuong Le sang with Ngoc.

“We chose to sing this song because the lyrics are about the beauty of Vietnamese girls in their traditional dresses called ‘ao dai,’” Nguyen said.

In the background, there was a video that Ngoc created which showed pictures of Vietnam in order to introduce people to the country.

“We hope that through the song and the video, our guests can see the beauty of Vietnam and its people. We always welcome people from all over the world to visit Vietnam,” said Ngoc.

Rhea emphasized the reason why SCISO held the potluck every year,
“The International Potluck is a platform for students to share about their different cultures, countries and ideas. Since St. Kate’s is a diverse university filled with many international students, it gives them the opportunity to take a piece of their home life and share it with other students on campus.” She said.

The International Potluck may be a fun event filled with food and entertainment, but it is also crucial to stress the importance of the education that can be gained. During the event, one St. Kate’s student, Agnes Kabambi, did a presentation on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“When students imagine Democratic Republic of the Congo, they think of people fighting and dying since that is what it is stereotyped as, but Agnes’s presentation highlighted the natural beauty of the country,” said Rhea.

The presentations held at the International Potluck are meant to introduce students to life outside the United States.

“This event exposed me to many different foods, dances and performances,” Olivia Skyberg ,‘16, said. “During the dinner, I tried dishes from different countries that were similar, yet unique in their own ways. This event showed me how our different countries are in some ways like completely different worlds. The International Potluck made me appreciate the diversity this world has.”

SCISO is a club that is not only for international students but is open to anyone who has the love of serving students in a diverse body. You do not have to be an international student to be a board member.

“The International Potluck gives international students the opportunity to dress up and feel proud of their countries,” Ngoc said. “In addition, it is also a reunion for a lot of St. Kate alumnae. We hope that from this event, students and guests can learn more about other cultures and get to know each other.”

Stacy can be reached at stdahl@stkate.edu.

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