Over 100 students came together at the International Student Coffeehouse to serve a meal and perform a show for the Goshen community on Saturday.The International Student Coffeehouse is an annual event that showcases food and talents from all over the world. The evening, hosted by the International Student Club, was led by Dona Park, Chrystopher Echavarria, both seniors, Achieng Agutu, Phil Chan, Hitesh Sharma, all juniors, and Sara Azzuni, a sophomore, alongside adviser, Skip Barnett.
The event began with a dinner representing 13 different countries through food and drink. Dishes included cuñapes from Bolivia, masqati from Iran, pozole from Mexico and more. Each dish was made by international students and friends.
The dinner took place in College Mennonite Church. Over 400 community members, students, faculty and staff came to support the International Student Club and eat food from all over globe.
Barnett said, “If it wasn’t for College Mennonite Church, this [event] would not happen, or at least not on the scale that it happens.”
About 100 students helped volunteer during the event, which included cooking, performing, ushering, cleaning and more.
“I think that’s pretty cool,” Barnett said. “That’s about an eighth of the school.”
Barnett also contributes much of the meal’s success to Jessica Whicker, CMC’s chef, who ordered the ingredients, helped students cook and made sure that the meal could feed over 400 people.
“[Whicker] is a professional – a food pro,” Barnett said. “She gets these recipes that you and I couldn’t make heads or tails out of.”
Unfortunately, because some ingredients are too expensive or unavailable in the United States, some adjustments need to be made to recipes.
Because of the large amount of food that needs to be made, the cooking takes place over four days.
“In the bad, old, stupid days before we got smart, we used to have everyone come in on Saturday. It was a madhouse…. I don’t know how we did that,” said Barnett.
After the meal, community members poured into Sauder Hall to watch 15 performances. Acts included poetry reading, K-Pop dances, family duets and more.
Yejin Kim, a first-year student performed a song titled, “Mama Don’t Worry,” with her brother Hajin, a sophomore. The siblings dedicated the song to their mother who is back home in Korea.
“It was a really good experience,” Kim said. “I really enjoyed working with my brother… on a song and also representing our culture. It was cool that my family got to see it in Korea too.”
The International Student Coffeehouse first began in the mid-1990s as a small event – Barnett likened it to an open-mic night. International students would gather in Newcomer 19 to perform dances and songs.
“It was a casual, fun time,” Barnett said.
The event slowly grew until one year where there was a communication error; over 400 tickets were accidentally sold for the dinner and the show, and ISC had to scramble to make enough food and space. Although the mishap was stressful, ISC has continued to sell around 400 tickets each year.
Barnett mentioned that as the event has changed size and location, participants have also changed.
“One of the many cool things about this [event] is that people’s American friends have joined with dances and cooking and everything else,” Barnett said. “It’s a real cross-border thing.”
Azzuni, in charge of the dinner portion of the event along with Sharma, said she enjoyed participating in the event because it brought diversity to the Goshen community.
“International students are one way to [bring diversity to Goshen],” she said. “It’s a huge event, so everyone can learn about something…. It’s a good way to educate people about international students.”
Barnett added, “It’s a great outreach to the community – to the local non-college related people. In a world with as many problems as we have, a day or an evening of beauty and fun and entertainment and talking about stuff besides terrorism and fears is essential.”
Proceeds from the event go to “pay the bills,” said Barnett, as well as to Mennonite Central Committee’s refugee relief fund and to fund ISC monthly events.
“[The students and I] are deeply appreciative to the college, and [CMC] for giving us the resources and supporting us,” Barnett said.