International dinner grows in popularity

The International Students Association is holding its annual International Dinner Friday featuring the theme “Crushing Stereotypes, Celebrating Traditions.”

UW-Whitewater alumnus and classical guitarist Benjamin James will perform and several international students will sing, dance and put on skits about cultural stereotypes.

This will be the first time the dinner has skits, but the change is nothing new for ISA adviser Jessica Harmatys.

Graphic by Kate Dodge.

“It is always my goal as the ISA adviser to encourage [the students] to make each year’s dinner even better than the year before,” Harmatys said. “In years past, we’ve mostly only had performances such as dance, music, or singing. But this year, we will have quite a few dramatic performances that will be used to break stereotypes.”

ISA worked with Chartwells to put together a menu of 13 dishes requested by international students. President David Quintero said he considers ISA a “window to the world” for students and faculty at UW-Whitewater.

Quintero said the theme “Crushing Stereotypes, Celebrating Traditions” is to help students learn about different cultures instead of embracing some of the stereotypes they may associate with them.

“We all know there are multiple stereotypes about different cultures and different people and most of them are not too fun,” Quintero said. “So this is our way to challenge those stereotypes in a fun way. We try to build a little bit of culture, a little bit of new, correct ideas to the people who come to the dinner.”

ISA reported Feb. 23 that all 250 tickets for the event had been sold. Chancellor Richard Telfer often attends, as well as international faculty and staff, community members and members from senior living communities.

Harmatys said the annual dinner has become increasingly popular since its early days.

“I think the international dinner has been an annual event on campus for at least 20 years,” Harmatys said. “It began as more of an informal potluck gathering, and it’s now an event that sells out every year.”

The event will feature 13 host tables, each decorated by a student representing the country featured at the table.

“From this particular dinner, I hope that people will walk away challenged to address and change some of the wrong stereotypes that they’ve had about the world,” Harmatys said. “I also hope they will leave with a new-found appreciation for the beauty of diversity that our international students bring to UW-Whitewater.”

The dinner will take place at 6 p.m. March 2 in the Hamilton Center in the University Center.

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