Community potluck brings international students together

Alex Seidler, Staff Reporter

As judges cast their votes, people ate cultural foods and played games during the International Potluck event Friday.

The event consisted of cultural foods such as African chicken, Russian cabbage soup, bisi bele bath, veg biryani, fish curry and more.

While cultural music played during the event, judges voted on the best food served.

Shravani Akula, a graduate student, won first place for her Bakshalu, a traditional sweet served in Karnataka, India. She received an apron as her prize.

Shraddha Shrestha, the president of the Association of International Students, said the event turned out better than she expected.

“There were more people than last time,” Shrestha said. “Last year it was held in Morton Park and it was cold.”

The attendees were community members, Eastern students, Lake Land Community college students, high school students, parents and children.

Mark Bettinger, the director of Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship, said the group came to the event to learn more about other cultures and different groups.

“We wanted our students to experience international cuisine and to meet students from around the world,” Bettinger said. “It was fantastic and I think we can do well by learning about cultures different from our own.”

Ahmed Salim Nuhu, the secretary of AIS, hosted the game Pass the Parcel while people continued tasting the food.

Players of the game pass around a small bucket of cards while music is played and try to avoid having the bucket when the music stops. The person holding the bucket after the music stops had to stand in front of everyone and perform the card’s actions.

“We planned this out very well and it exceeded our expectations,” Nuhu said. “The level of excitement was every bit amazing and I hope this subsequent more participation in other events to come.”

Maleeha Zia, a Lake Land student, talked about her culture and country of Pakistan to the crowd.

“I thought it was scary and fun,” Zia said. “It’s fun because I’m more than willing to speak about my country and scary because I was not prepared to do it in front of that many people.”

While on stage, Zia said some people are unaware of where Pakistan is and often confuse Pakistanis for Indians a lot.

Muhammad Alshanbari, the network administrator at Lake Land, had to count backwards from 50 within 30 seconds on stage for being the person who was left with the bucket.

“It was really hard and confusing,” Alshanbari said. “I accidentally said 92 instead of 29 while counting.”

During the game, each person who performed an action from his or her card received a cup full of candy.

Nazmi Turker, a graduate student, said he appreciated not just the food, but events like the International Potluck.

“The food is stimulating and I loved it because you get to try lots of different kinds of food you never had any idea existed,” Turker said.

Sangram Kodavatikanti, the pastor for Charleston Community Church, said he hopes to provide more help to International students throughout the community.

“We want to give international students more opportunities and to bring people from local areas and bring them together,” Kodavatikanti said.

Kodavatikanti said the church could help with providing international students car rides for groceries or other services they need.

More people attended the event than the previous year at the Charleston Community Church.

Kadavatikanti said he hopes this many attendees come to more future international events like the Sounds of the World.


Alex Seidler can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]