ISA brings cultures together at the Thanksgiving table

students enjoying the international buffet

The club members brought food from their nations that were enjoyed by the participants. Gray Bancroft | Washtenaw Voice





When the sugar highs of Halloween have subsided and bellies are grumbling for something more substantial than a mini Twix bar, Thanksgiving stands as a haven for those ready for a plate of home-cooked food and a table filled with loved ones.

This year, Washtenaw Community College’s International Student Association put their own spin on what is primarily known as an American holiday by integrating dishes from the countries of international students in their version of Thanksgiving dinner.

Brought together by the ISA with the help of the Dean of Diversity and Inclusion Arnett Chisholm and Garrett’s – the student-run restaurant – savory smells filled the room as a variety of dishes were laid out for the full restaurant of hungry guests. A total of 100 tickets were given out for ISA’s potluck-style Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 19 – 100 being the cutoff to regulate the number of attendees, according to ISA advisor Devin Streur. The room filled quickly with ISA members, friends, family, and faculty. Then Streur began the first ever ISA Thanksgiving.

Starting out with the basics, turkey and stuffing were served as what Streur defined as the “base” for the meal. Some students even included some American favorites such as pumpkin pie. The spread was quickly complemented with a number of international foods, such as tamales, Middle Eastern salad, pot stickers, and bagela – a traditional Iraqi dish composed mostly of bread and vegetables.

Although food is considered one of the main components of Thanksgiving celebrations, ISA President Marko Delic, 20, from Montenegro, integrated the theme of being thankful.

“Even though it’s American, giving thanks is universal. Being thankful for what we have in our lives brings us all together as a community,” Delic stated.

In addition to the culinary festivities was a birthday celebration, where 24-year-old ISA member Victor Plase, from Togo, was gifted with a pie to the face, provided by his fellow ISA classmates. Laughter filled the room as Plase posed for selfies with pie filling clinging to his cheeks before the post-feast party began.

The night rolled on with students dancing to an array of music that left not only guests dancing, but Chisholm and Streur as well. Chisholm lead a conga line and danced amongst students and guests.

Through all of the hard work put into planning and executing this event, both Streur and Chisholm attributed the night’s outcome to the ISA students. Chisholm states it was the students’ posts to social media that pushed for the size of the event.

“They were really the ones who pulled it all together. They are ultimately why we are here in the first place,” Chisholm said.

Streur shared the same sentiment, saying the students worked as a community and a family. Even in the midst of dancing and singing, the ISA members pulled together to help clean up before continuing their activities.

Nada Alareqi, a 22-year-old from Yemen, stated the importance of the event, in her eyes, was to bring people together – an important aspect she felt was achieved.

“We’re like one big family. So many of us don’t have family here and sometimes feel so alone but here, we’re all here for each other,” Alareqi said. “I love everyone here like family.”




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