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   Date: 11/12/09 Bookmark and Share

International Students Day 2009

Click on the image to view the I.S. Day poster.

Each fall, more than 50 Smith students from some 21 foreign countries coordinate a day of celebration around food from their native lands, to be shared with the Smith community. A smorgasbord of recipes from lands far and near will be served on Monday, Nov. 16, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Campus Center Carroll Room during International Students Day 2009, always a popular campus event.

Meanwhile, senior Panchali Ellepola, who is from Sri Lanka, wrote for the Gate about why, for her, I.S. Day is among the highlights of the year.

A Party in the Kitchen

By Panchali Ellepola ’10

As a senior on the verge of setting out into the real world, I find myself often reminiscing about my fondest memories at Smith. International Students Day, or I.S. Day, features very prominently among these memories.

The I.S. Day food festival, organized by the International Students Organization (ISO) in collaboration with dining services, is celebrated each fall in the Campus Center Carroll Room. International students prepare mouth-watering dishes from their own family recipes and sell it to the campus community during lunch. I.S. Day always features an eclectic array of recipes, from as far as Afghanistan, Croatia, Nepal and Sri Lanka, just to name a few.

Panchali Ellepola in her homeland, Sri Lanka.

As I’ve become more involved with ISO and the organization of the event, I have come to realize that I.S. Day is controlled chaos. As the recipes start to flood in, the ISO cabinet, dining services and Dean T (Hrayr Tamzarian, dean of international students) are running helter-skelter trying to organize the logistics. Procuring rare (and sometimes unheard-of) ingredients, trying to figure out the cooking schedules for more than 40 busy Smithies and publicizing the event itself are just some of the many tasks that need to be accomplished. Hosting an event such as I.S. Day also poses many challenges. On more than one occasion Dean T and dining services personnel have patiently listened to decipher vague descriptions of strange herbs that are crucial to a certain dish but seem to have no English translation.

Once cooking day arrives, however, the day before I.S. Day, it’s a party in the kitchen! There is music blaring in the background while delicious aromas start to mix and meld into one I.S. Day potpourri. It usually takes the utmost amount of self-control to stop from dipping into the Spanish Paella or Tibetan dumplings ahead of time. On occasion, however, I have given into temptation and “stolen” a few momos from the Nepali group or carried out a “mutual food exchange” with the Ghana group or just appreciated the differences between Sri Lankan and Bengali dhal curry.

These are just some of the elements that make I.S. Day so special to international students. It’s a chance for us to showcase and share our culture and cuisine, a chance to appreciate others and maybe most importantly, get a tiny taste of home.

Once all the chaotic elements come together, I.S Day has a carnival-esque atmosphere. It is a celebration of world culture and a way of bringing people together through food. It is for this reason I.S. Day is so special to me, and why I feel it is one of the best showcases of Smith diversity.

Bon appétit!

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