International student dinner

1172: South Korean students Yvonne Lee, Wonmuk Kang and Kay Koo sample Nigerian powdered yam, spinach soup and chicken soup. (Brooke Adams | Grand Central Magazine)

On Monday, April 18, Lorie Tuma’s International Tourism class hosted a dinner for international student on CMU’s campus. 

Throughout the semester, Tuma invited a few international students to each class to discuss whatever issue the class had been scheduled to examine.

“It seemed pretty logical,” said Tuma. “The class was designed with a specific focus on international tourism, so I wanted to take the students beyond what I knew about the industry and connect them with the folks that knew it best.”

Tuma and her students invited over 500 international students to the event and approximately 50 students attended. 

“It was so exciting to see the international students walk in, and then to see my students recognize them immediately, run up to them, and embrace them,” said Tuma.

The students in Tuma’s class provided the venue, decorations, drinks and entertainment; however, each international student was asked to bring a main dish to pass.

The spread was quite diverse including Nigerian powdered yam, chicken soup and spinach soup, sushi from Japan, Korean dumplings and noodles and Jamaican baked chicken, rice and peas and potato salad.

South Korean students Yvonne Lee, Wonmuk Kang and Kay Koo were enthusiastic about coming to the event and interacting with the American students.

“I want to make more American friends,” said Kang.  “I’m excited and interested.”

Many international students at the event explained the difficult situations they are faced with in a new environment.

“Sometimes it can be uncomfortable, but many American people are very kind and friendly.” said Kang.

Koo echoed his thoughts, saying, “When I first came here, I didn’t know this place and they were always friendly.” “I was really impressed.”

Sterling Heights senior Derek Collard knows from personal experience how it feels to be in a new place and unaware of the new culture.

“I spent five months in Cambodia, and I know how much it means to have people from that culture take you in and show you what it’s like to be in their country and to be kind to you and to welcome you,” Collard said.

Collard also explained the importance of learning about other cultures in terms or the changing world.

“With all the advances in social media, the world is shrinking.,” said Collard.  “We need to learn to learn to interact with people from other cultures that are drastically different from our own. “

Jamaican doctoral student Maureen Nelson reiterated Collard’s thoughts about the necessity to integrate cultures and inform American about the rest of the world.

“Even though I am from a third world country, I have things to offer that Americans can’t offer,” Nelson said.  “I think they need to try to understand that there are differences everywhere and everyone makes the world.”