It is a small world after all. Through song, dance and dishes representing more than 20 countries, cultural goodwill was on display at the annual International Head's Dinner on Saturday, March 5.
Head of School Laura Danforth opened the festivities before a well-dressed crowd of about 200 students and faculty, some donning traditional cultural clothing. International Club co-presidents Dayan Battulga ’23, Marie Kyo ’22, Sunny Shi ’22 and Luke Zhu ’22 introduced the student-led music and dance performances.
Pulling double duty as chef and performer was Dani Appiah ’22 who cooked two dishes from her native Ghana: jollof, made with rice, tomatoes and onions, and kelewele, a seasoned, fried plantain snack. She also performed a special rhythmic dance with Maria Portillo ’22 and Nico Riley ’23, who served as choreographer. “We wanted to showcase the strong connection between West Africa and the Caribbean that developed during and after colonial times,” Appiah explained.
For Zhu, a senior boarding student from China, this event is always a highlight. This year, he whipped up some tasty stir-fried pork belly with friends as a nod to his heritage. “When it comes to the appreciation of cultural diversity, food is often the most direct and expressive representation of different countries and regions,” he shared. “One of my fondest memories was the time when I sang a Chinese pop song with my peers during an International Dinner.”
Earlier in the day, the dining hall kitchen was abuzz as 30 students worked together with Brock dining staff to prepare and cook mouthwatering menu items including: Sri Lankan chicken curry, Brazilian fish stew, Shanghainese pork chops, German bratwurst, Korean rice cakes, Mexican churros and Israeli chicken shawarma — among other culinary delights.
It made for a busy week for Lee Bergelson, general manager of Brock dining services, the School’s culinary maestro. “From curating the menu, to getting the recipes from the students and scaling them from five people to 200, there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that allows the event to seem effortless,” he said. He lauded the students’ contributions, sharing that “the pride that they had in their dishes showed in the final outcome, and the food looked and tasted great.”
Rob Fish, dorm parent and dean of global studies, agreed. “I loved seeing the kids work together to lead and do much of the work to organize, prepare and run a dinner for well over 100 people along with live entertainment,” he said. “Seeing them enjoy themselves, bond, have pride in their accomplishment, and create memories that will stay with them long after graduation was a joy for me.”
Appiah enjoyed every aspect of the event too. “We get to showcase our diverse cultures within the Masters community, and also learn a couple of new things about each other and the different flavored food,” she said.