International Banquet

Saturday, December 1, 2012 by Ji Su

Each semester at the Claremont Colleges brings its own group of annual events, and in the fall I look forward to International Banquet the most. One of the two largest events held by International Place of the Claremont Colleges*, Banquet is one opportunity for everyone in Claremont to interact with the international community, learn about global cultures, and get a taste of foreign cuisines. It’s a slightly fancier sit-down dinner, with food based on recipes submitted by international students and tons of great performances (pictures come with this post – scroll down!).

This past Sunday before Thanksgiving, Banquet was held at Harvey Mudd’s LAC (Linde Activities Center). I was especially excited for this year’s Banquet; it was a chance to see 5C friends that I had met over the past orientation event and to attract a larger group of Mudders to the event, both international and local (relatively speaking). And as was the case last year, I signed up to be an event photographer, which means that I spend the night running around to get shots of the audience, the performances, and the student servers as well. And instead of just talking about the event, here are a few shots from Sunday:

International students at the photo booth I helped set up and run at Banquet! :)
Two of our many student servers that night – They’re super friendly and approachable ;)
Mudders enjoying food from all over the world
This is Taiko, which is Japanese ensemble drumming – there’s a club for it at the 5C’s, called Psyko Taiko. They perform for Banquet & other international events frequently. Watching them is never less than inspirational; the teamwork is unbelievable and their energy is so contagious!
Bollywood dancing: they have a team on the 5C campus and last week they performed at both Banquet & a Diwali celebration at the Pomona campus center. Definitely one of my favorite groups to watch.
A fantastic finale: Yeji Mun, a Korean language resident at CMC, sang the national anthem of Korea, shortly followed by a surprise Gangnam Style performance!

I’m thankful that events like International Banquet (and an office like I-Place!) exist because they expose everyone to the international community at the Claremont Colleges. The cultural diversity at the 5C’s is truly impressive – we have students from all continents (except Antarctica) and so many who have come to call multiple countries their home. Just like any student from the East Coast enjoys talking about the snow back home (especially when in some days this past month we were still in shorts and t-shirts), we love sharing sights, sounds, and tastes from back home.

Still, for every single one of us, a trip home is long and expensive. There aren’t that many of us at each college here, and on top of that we’re pretty scattered across the 7 different campuses. We all miss the world of the metric system, the smell of home made kimchi and char kway teow, and the sound of exchanging greetings in familiar languages. Even though we don’t all share the same background, we share common issues and concerns about studying abroad, far from home.

Through events like Banquet and International Orientation, you get to meet others who feel the same way. You meet people who haven’t been to the big national parks in the States and make plans to take trips there together (which is what I did during orientation this year!). You meet people who don’t have plans for Thanksgiving dinner and decide to order in Indian food for the night (and it was really yummy, too). You meet people who, like you, don’t understand American customs and cultural aspects (and sometimes forget to tip the waiter). The cumulative effect is that you create a support network across the 5C’s and an even greater variety of people to mix with.

Ji Su
(ji_su_lee@hmc.edu)

*FYI: International Place is an office on CMC campus that helps out 7C international students and hosts events for us. They are the same office that organizes the huge 5C + 2 graduate institution-wide international student orientation, which occurs before each of the schools’ own orientation events.