This Saturday night, the International Graduate Student Association (IGSA) held their annual International Dinner. Having heard about last year’s event since the beginning of the school year, I was curious to see what it was all about. On Saturday evening, after spending the day talking with prospective MBA students at the Willamette MBA Preview Day, I headed over to the Montag Den on campus to see what the IGSA had to offer. I was not disappointed.
The moment I walked in, several facts about our student body were reinforced – facts that I knew in theory, but hadn’t really witnessed:
- 1. Our students have families. I often hear about these other people in my colleagues’ lives, but don’t usually see them, and never all at once. I felt like the student body had just doubled, growing to include all of the spouses, siblings, and children that I knew existed but rarely saw.
- Our students are very international. This is actually very obvious on an everyday basis at school, as half the conversations that go on around me are in different languages. At the International Dinner it was apparent in a completely new way. Many of the students were in their countries’ traditional apparel, and there were tables filled with food made from recipes all over the world.
- And on that note – our students can cook! Having come from a dinner obligation, I could only find the stomach space to hit the dessert table, but even there I tried dishes from at least five or six different countries.
The evening continued with a fashion show, presentations about the different countries where our students are from, and many impressive performances including singing, drumming, and dancing (including the cutest rendition of Gangnam Style in existence). The hard work that the IGSA put into preparing for the event was evident. Outgoing IGSA President, Niven Singh, said, “we spent a solid two months planning this event from every detail of who is bringing food to who is performing and when. It was great reinforcement after the event to see that all our hard work paid off.”
The International Dinner left me with a new appreciation for my fellow students, and an extremely full belly. But there was more to it than that.
Niven explained, “My favorite aspect has always been the acceptance factor. This is one event where we can truly stand out and the point of the event is to celebrate those differences. It was awesome to see all the students come out and share their talents without fear.”
Aside from the International Dinner, the IGSA organizes panels and networking opportunities. The student-led group is open to all students and is not focused on a specific skill set, and so it often partners with other organizations to host events. For more information and pictures from the evening, check out Niven’s blog post about the event.