Traditionally held in-person in Alden Memorial, the International Dinner is a colorful buffet of food and live entertainment presented by the International House and the International Student Council. Due to the pandemic, however, presenters had to “think outside the box” on how to make this year’s dinner COVID-safe.
Turns out, “box” was part of the answer. This year’s dinner evolved into “International To Go,” featuring pre-made boxes of different foods for attendees to pick up and take home to enjoy, and prerecorded entertainment that was streamed from a YouTube playlist.
“We had to completely revamp the event while keeping its spirit alive,” says Bhanuj Jain ’22, a physics and mathematical sciences double major and president of the International Student Council. “We didn’t always know what our limitations were because of COVID, and we ended up having to change plans multiple times.”
Regardless of the challenges, the International Student Council, which is responsible for planning and hosting the dinner every year, worked with the International House and other campus partners to hold the event, now in its 34th year, on Nov. 20. Colleen Callahan-Panday, director of International Student Life, helped fill and hand out boxes that included food purchased from Worcester international restaurants, such as Momo Palace in the Worcester Public Market, Fatima’s Café on Gold Star Boulevard, and Miranda’s Bread on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, along with items cooked by Chartwells.
“We wanted to capture the essence of our traditional buffet in our boxes,” says Callahan-Panday. “It gave me an extra warm feeling to support local restaurants, especially as some of them are struggling during the pandemic. Chartwells did a wonderful job, too, and was a huge supporter of the dinner.”