NKU community taste flavors of the world at international potluck celebration

Northern Kentucky University students, families and friends took a trip out of the United States and into the home countries of the university’s international students April 9.

The International Student Union presented the 20th Annual International Potluck Dinner and Talent Show to celebrate the exchange students studying at NKU.

The annual event is the biggest international event of the year. The Student Union Ballroom was filled with around 340 international students, their families and friends, as well as NKU faculty and staff, including Victor E. Viking and President James Votruba.

“I’m here to enjoy the international potluck. It’s great fun to meet all the international students,” Votruba said.

The ISU holds the event as an end-of-the-year celebration, showcasing the 400 different students at NKU that hail from 73 different countries. “For the international organizations, this is their time to shine,” said ISU president Erin Jamriska.

The atmosphere throughout the night was friendly and it seemed like almost everyone knew each other, making for a great, open environment. Senior computer science major Justin Shelton described the international student group as a whole different community.

“It’s almost like Greek life — except it’s exchange life,” Shelton said about the large number of international exchange students at NKU.

All attendees were in their element, as many were dressed in their traditional clothing and able to eat the traditional food they have missed from their home countries.

The potluck began with a bazaar where different organizations could promote their countries. The Saudi Arabian Student Association presented the biggest booth, with samples of Arabian coffee and pastries, as well as informational videos and pictures. The Asian Student Association taught origami and created bookmarks while offering a donation box that would go to disaster relief in Japan.

After the bazaar, attendees enjoyed music by Yayoi and New Brazil, a jazzy, cultural fusion group. The music provided a great background to the friendly atmosphere that radiated from the Union throughout the entire night.

The food was provided by the guests, who were required to either pay for a ticket or bring an international dish to attend. The Ballroom was lined with tables, which were labeled by continent to help organize the many dishes from each country.

The food is really the bonding factor in the event, according to Jamriska. Many of the international students said the food was their favorite part, including Valeriya Mkrtichyan.

Mkrtichyan is a third-year student at NKU from Russia, who stated her love for desserts while eating one of the many choices.

The lines for the buffet-style tables filled with food weaved throughout the Ballroom for about 45 minutes before everyone was back in their seat and ready for the talent show.

The talent show, another crowd favorite, featured dance and musical acts, as well as a fashion show performed by students. Bulgarian sisters Dely and Iliyana Kricheva both enjoyed the performances and the fashion show the most. Dely, a senior finance major, is also an ISU member, so it’s important to come together to celebrate the cultures, languages and peoples from other countries for one night.

This year’s theme for the dinner was “Journey through Memories,” as a way to honor the international alumni who made the event such a successful tradition. Abdul Kazi graduated in May 2008, but has continued to attend the potluck every year since graduation because he misses the international connections NKU provides.

The International Potluck was sponsored by Student Life’s Student Organization Collaborative Project grant, The Party Source and other local companies which provided the door prizes and raffle prizes.

Story by Claire Higgins