On Saturday, students got the chance to witness a celebration of different countries and cultures at the International Student Coffeehouse.
The evening began with a dinner held in the Church-Chapel. Dishes from 13 different countries were offered, including hummus from the Middle East, kachumbari salad from Kenya, stroganoff from Brazil and chana masala from India. The dishes were all prepared by students who used the church’s kitchen under the supervision of Jessica Whicker, the kitchen manager.
Becca Choi, a junior, was involved in the dinner and the coffeehouse this year. She made kimchi from Korea for the dinner and participated in two performances. She stated that she made the dish because it is a Choi family staple.
“I wanted to make something from home and from the culture I was brought up in,” said Choi. Of the other foods served at the dinner, she said the Chinese dish hong shao rou, made of pork belly, was her favorite.
“I loved the pork belly Bohan, Rachel and Richard made. It was a Chinese dish and it was scrumptious. I did not know that it could be prepared in that way!” said Choi.
A few hours later, the dinner guests migrated to Sauder Concert Hall for the coffeehouse, a performance showcasing different countries and talents. The coffeehouse was kicked off by the Barnett’s Boys, a group of b-boy dancers who have performed in the past. This year, they were accompanied by a live band.
“I loved Barnett’s Boys a ton,” said Choi. “They went above and beyond for their performance and it was phenomenal.”
Other acts included a traditional Chinese dance by Melissa Ma, a sophomore, a ukulele rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” performed by Hajin Kim, a senior, and a prose piece performed by Olivia Copsey, a senior, about looking international but being American.
Yujin Kim, a freshman, was involved in three different acts. She sang a Korean song with her sister, Yejin Kim, and performed in two different dance groups. It took about two months to prepare both dances, while the duet with her sister was put together in an hour.
“We both knew the song and it is actually one of our favorite Korean songs,” said Kim.
Kim explained that it took her brother Hajin two weeks to learn and memorize “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“He never stopped playing Bohemian Rhapsody until the day of the coffeehouse,” said Kim. “Due to his continuous practice, [the song] was stuck in my head for the past few months.”
Towards the end of the coffeehouse, awards were announced for different international students. Part of the proceeds raised from ticket sales go towards a charity; this year the charity was GC Student Benevolent Fund, a group that offers monetary support to students in times of emergency. Sara Azzuni, a senior, announced the charity.
Afterward, she did something she’d always wanted to do: take a selfie on stage.
“I have got to say, seeing Sara take that selfie was my favorite,” said Choi. The crowd was also amused, and another student, Yazan Meqbil, even jumped on stage to snap a selfie as well, using his status as a senior as an excuse.
“Seeing the ISC students feel a sense of community when serving was so much fun,” said Choi. “Everyone [was] displaying their cultures through clothes, music and conversation.”
For Kim, being able to participate in the coffeehouse was a great experience. She’d previously watched the event by livestreaming it with her family, so it was exciting to be a part of it this year.
“It felt weird but astonishing to be on stage looking at the camera instead of looking into my computer screen,” said Kim.
For her future years at GC, Kim intends to continue to be part of the coffeehouse. “It was truly an amazing experience to be part of ISC coffeehouse because I was given the opportunity to try new things,” said Kim. “I designed a poster for the first time, learned how to dance for the first time, and it was my first time [sharing] my country’s food, language, music, dance and culture with hundreds of people.”
Choi encourages people to attend next year’s ISC event, saying it’s “the best place to immerse yourself in different cultures with all your senses.”