Cultural Goodwill on the Menu at This Year’s International Dinner

From Senegalese chicken and Korean beef to Ukrainian borscht and Puerto Rican pork, the International Dinner served up a taste of global home cooking on Saturday, February 4.

The annual event, held in the dining hall, was hosted by International Club co-chairs Dayan Battulga ’23, Marianna Gu ’23, Ryan Guan ’23 and Youri Lee ’23, who introduced the student-led music and dance performances.

Guan, a boarding student from China, explained the importance of this celebration for international students who look forward to sharing a bit of “home” with their Masters family. “Having this event shows the school community how diverse we are as we appreciate each other and learn new things together,” Guan said.

Earlier in the day, nearly 50 students worked with Brock dining staff to prepare and cook 18 dishes, including Chinese roasted pork belly, Israeli potato latkes, Egyptian koshari, Jamaican jerk chicken and Australian pavlova.

Lee Bergelson, general manager of Brock dining services, orchestrated the planning and presentation of the special menu. “We are very lucky to be part of this tradition here at Masters,” he said. “We organize all the ingredients the students need by recipe on a cart so it is easy for them to grab. They also have a cook who is paired with their team to help in the process. When the students come into the kitchen and the Brock staff sees their excitement at the chance to cook, everyone is engaged and enjoys themselves.”

Brock cook Natasha Johnson, who is popular among Masters students for her lunchtime paninis, helped students make adas polo (Persian lentil rice) and kaiserschmarrn (sweet Austrian pancakes). “Sometimes the kids come in with recipes or ways they were taught from their grandparents or parents, so it's always passed on by generations, and then it's something that we learn from as well,” she said.

Rob Fish, dean of global studies, appreciated that both day and boarding students participated. “Seeing students work together to prepare a delicious meal and provide wonderful entertainment for the community was a great experience.” 

Fifteen students entertained the well-dressed crowd with jazz and pop music numbers, including Guan who played a guitar solo and a song with his bandmates. “If food is the tangible way to taste the culture, performances are then the visual and auditory ways,” he explained.

Cathy He ’25, her brother Mark He ’26, Eunice Wang ’25 and Guan, of The RECK, a pop/rock band, closed out the festivities with a rousing rendition of “Happy,” the theme song from the well-known Chinese TV sitcom “iPartment.” 

“We hope this song resonated with students,” Cathy said. “Because I've known the song for years, I don't think of it as a performance, but more like a group of friends singing together on a holiday. It brings me joy when I hear people singing along and cheering afterward.”

“The International Dinner is one of my favorite Masters traditions,” said Sam Savage, associate head for faculty and academics, who was a big fan of the kimchi fried rice. “It’s a time when we gather to celebrate the beautiful diversity in our community and in the world, and the festivities feel so in line with our mission and our identity as a school.”

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