Solaine Carter/Courtesy Photo
Students looking for a chance to escape the Maine cold, tempt their taste buds, and connect with members of the Bates community can look forward to the annual International Dinner this Saturday.
From Chase Hall to Gray Cage to Zoom
The International Dinner has been held at Bates since the early 1970s. Back then, the event brought around 100 attendees to Chase Hall. In the past couple decades, the dinner has been held in the Gray Cage and has usually attracted over 400 students, faculty, staff (including retirees), and friends of students outside Bates.
According to the Associate Dean of Students for International Student Programs James Reese, the event “has a presence on the campus such that if an unlimited number of tickets were to be sold, the number would be 800 rather than 400.” However, the numbers are usually restricted so that students can cook enough food.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, modifications had to be made to this year’s dinner. However, the International Club was determined to keep the tradition alive. On Saturday, a Zoom call will be held at 7 p.m. EST. Club president Devanshi Trivedi ‘22 will be waking up at 5:30 a.m. to direct the dinner remotely from her home in India. The event is open to students, faculty, and staff; the Zoom link will be posted on Bates Today and the International Club Instagram page.
Mystery Boxes, Cookbook & Fashion Show
At this year’s dinner, attendees will be able to enjoy mystery snack boxes composed of a sampling of snacks that were pre-ordered based on student submissions. Students who wished to receive a mystery box were required to fill out a Google form by Feb. 28 and could either pay a small fee of $3 or choose to submit a recipe. The club also gave students the opportunity to “send boxes to [their] friends, favorite professors, or staff members to brighten their day!”
The snack boxes are a chance for attendees to learn more about the different countries and cultures that enrich the Bates student body. The proceeds will benefit the International Club, and the boxes will be delivered through Post & Print by Friday.
In addition to the snack boxes, the International Club is working to compile a comprehensive cookbook with around 50 recipes “that students from around the world enjoy making for themselves,” as Dean Reese put it. The plan is to make these recipes accessible to all members of the Bates community.
Current recipes include: empanadas mendocinas from Argentina, mousse de maracujá (passion fruit pudding) from Brazil, palak paneer from India (a vegetarian dish made with pureed spinach and paneer, a type of cottage cheese) and kruidnoten (Dutch Spice Cookies) from the Netherlands.
In previous years, the dinner has concluded with a fashion show where students show off clothing from their various home countries. This year, students were able to submit photos of themselves and these will be displayed during the Zoom call for a virtual fashion show.
Finally, there will also be a chance to win gift cards to local restaurants that feature international cuisine.
Celebrating the International Circle
Something unique about this year’s dinner is that students studying both on campus and remotely will have a chance to participate and connect with each other.
“It was really challenging to shift such a people-centric event to a virtual/distanced format, but we thought about the various aspects that make the dinner what it is (the food, the interactions, the various dishes, etc) and tried to replicate each thing with a part of the programming,” Trivedi shared.
“However, we’re all really excited to see how it turns out, and we hope people enjoy their boxes! We’re going to have people send in unboxing photos and videos if they want, so we think that will be a great way to involve the “human” aspect of the dinner as well,” she added.
Vice President Khushi Choudhary ‘23 is also from India and has helped to organize the on-campus aspects of the dinner. She echoed Trivedi’s sentiments and added that the club is looking forward to this year’s dinner because it will bring together a Bates community that has been forced to be separated during the pandemic. Choudhary added that the club really wants to make it clear that this dinner is for everybody and not just international students.
In 1977, there were 25 international students at Bates. Today, the student body includes 140 international students. However, Dean Reese explained that the International Circle –– which is composed of “[international students], dual citizens of the U.S. and another country, citizens of the U.S. who have lived the majority of their existence abroad, students who are recent U.S. permanent residents, and students whose family makeup sees them desiring to actively share and be supported in their family’s origins and cultures” –– includes around 225 students.
“The Bates Office of Global Education welcomes, supports, and works with all students of the International Circle to the level of their desire on any facets, questions, programs, issues, and joys each individual chooses to raise while enrolled,” Dean Reese shared. The International Dinner is a great example of this.
“The Dinner always has been an opportunity to prepare, share, and enjoy dishes ‘from home,’” Dean Reese said. Even though this year’s event will look different from previous years, the International Club has worked tirelessly to continue this lively, community-centered Bates tradition.