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ISAC Christmas Banquet creates warm atmosphere for international students

Photo courtesy Rae Hudnell
Photo courtesy Rae Hudnell

Every year young ladies at Calvin bustle about to find the perfect dress and guys work up the nerve to ask a lady to accompany them to the ISAC Christmas Gala, but most importantly, the students come together as an international community to celebrate Christmas.

The international student association committee (ISAC), hosted its annual Christmas gala at St. Cecilia Music Center this past Friday, Nov. 30.  ISAC is a part of the international student development office, a department specifically designed to help international students feel at home while at Calvin.

The Christmas gala has been offered to the international students since ISAC began in 1996. The purpose of the gala is to help international students feel more comfortable while they are far from home during the holidays, said Lotachukwu Onwumelu, president of ISAC.

“It is part of the Calvin tradition and the international student’s tradition,” he said. “It’s a unique way to celebrate Christmas since we are all far from home.”

The Christmas celebration began with a prayer by Bob Crow, dean of student development. After prayer dinner was served. Students were served a provided with a diverse meal of chicken sauté, Mongolian beef, steamed vegetables and fried rice.

Students thought that the food represented the community of students.

“I enjoyed eating the food from various cultures because it reflected us, who we are and what we may eat on Christmas,” said senior nursing major Wairimu Kungu.

This was done deliberately Onwumelu said.

“Dishes were more international,” he said. “We picked food that was flavorful and diverse, reflecting where students were from.”

The food was also served in family style order. No one received a prepared individual plate; students dished their food out of community bowls. The meal was organized this way so that the dinner could put the students in a family atmosphere.

“I like that the meal was served family style because it made the meal very personal,” said Kungu. “It was definitely community centered.”

After the dinner, participants enjoyed their dessert while listening to open mic performances. Seven acts performed. One of the audience’s favorite performances was the acoustic version of Korean pop song, Gangnam Style, performed by Sam Yoon, Jabez Bang, Young II Won, Chan Min Ahn, Brian Hwang, and Joy Lee. It was the group’s second year performing at the gala.

They were asked to begin the open mic session to get the crowd excited about the performances.

Lead vocalist Sam Yoon’s enjoyed the crowd’s excitement for the music.

“Everyone at the banquet enjoyed the song together,” he said. “Singing Gangnam Style together with the crowd was so much fun!”

A dance party followed the open mic session. A variety of music was played and students danced till the party ended. During the various events students had the opportunity to take photos in a photo booth.

Although the booth was a small activity, for some students it was the most memorable part of the night.

“I enjoyed the pictures most of all,” said senior Maame Achau. “This is my last ISAC banquet, so I took pictures with other seniors who I may not see for a while. It was nice to capture the moment.”

The ISAC student committee hoped that this celebration would help the international students enjoy the holidays in spite of being away from home. The committee wants the students to feel their community is a family and a diverse home away from home.

“It is easy to get in the Christmas spirit when you are at home celebrating with families,” Onwumelu said. “So we all came together as a community to celebrate, show our love and appreciation for one another because we are a family.”

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