Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

International Dinner Celebrates All Culture

    Students of all nationalities will come together this Saturday in the Campion Ballroom for a chance to share their cultures at the 39th annual International Dinner. The event promises guests a variety of ethnic foods and live performances that hail from all four corners of the earth. The theme for this year comes in the form of a question: Where do you come from, Seattle?

    As the entertainment chair of the event, senior nursing major Ning Luo collaborated with local performers, singers and Seattle U students to give them a chance to answer.

    “I try to coordinate our program, our budget and negotiate with local performers, singers and also student performers so they can bring a different perspective and unique flavor of their culture to our event,” Luo said. “Both on campus or from other schools or in local areas.”

    Luo came to Seattle U from China in 2014 during fall quarter. After volunteering at the International Dinner last year, he started working at the International Student Center (ISC), which gave him the opportunity to help students like himself make a home of Seattle.

    “Our campus is just a smaller shot of the whole U.S. society,” Luo said. “I think [the dinner] is another lens to project myself, my identity, the narrative from my side, also the narrative of the international community.”

    The dinner is one of the many ways that ISC Director Ryan Greene has worked hard to make the transition to Seattle U life easier and faster for students like Luo. Along with his coworkers and a committee of students, volunteers and returning alumni, Greene has brought the world to Seattle U’s campus since he came to the university six years ago.

    “Seattle in many ways is a very global city,” Greene said. “A lot of our students get asked ‘where are you from?’”

    The International Dinner gives students a chance to answer that question. The event’s rich history at Seattle U reflects the wide diversity of the school’s globalized student population. Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the first iteration of the event. Incidentally, it will also mark 125 years since Seattle U was founded in 1892.

    A lot has changed since ISC introduced the event almost four decades ago. ISC Assistant Director Dale Watanabe, who started working at Seattle U 16 years ago, was around when a lot of that change took place.

    Watanabe said that the event started as a basic potluck where international students gathered together and shared food. As the years went by, the event’s popularity grew and Watanabe had to accommodate more and more guests with an ever changing panel of performers. Most years, he said, you’ll find him cooking with students in the kitchen during the event.

    “The fondest memories always come from getting to know students better in a different capacity,” Watanabe said. “Not as their adviser, just somebody working alongside them, helping to put on this event.”

    With so many International Dinners under his belt, it didn’t take long for Watanabe to dig up memories of antics, shenanigans and laughter. He recalled one year when a group called “Show Brazil” came to perform at the event. Upon meeting them in person, ISC administrators didn’t think the group’s attire was appropriate and kindly asked them to “dress a little more conservatively.”

    When the time came to perform, they noticed immediately that the performers had made minimal changes to their outfits. Partway through the routine, in the spirit of good show, one of the dancers chose to leave the stage and continue her dance on top of the nearest table. Little did she know, this is where the Jesuits were sitting. Hysterical panic ensued as Watanabe and other event organizers watched from offstage with their mouths open. The Jesuits received a humble but honest explanation after the show.

    “It’s a fun event. Every year is different. There are some mishaps, and sometimes those mishaps are kind of funny in retrospect. Last year we misplaced a bunch of dumplings,” Watanabe said. “It’s all part of the fun.”

    The dinner will be held this Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Campion Ballroom. Tickets can be purchased online and at the CAC and ISC offices. All students, faculty and staff, domestic and international, are welcome.

    Nick can be reached at
    [email protected]

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