Community Dinner provides a melting pot of diversity in Kent

Rebecca Mohr

International students break bread, share stories with residents

International Education Week came to a close Saturday as more than 400 people attended the Kent Community Dinner in the Kent State University Ballroom.

Community members and international students shared stories, conversation and culture. The Rev. Ronald Fowler addressed the crowd and started the dinner with encouraging words about international issues and the community.

“Everybody counts. Everybody deserves a smile, a handshake and a fair deal under the law,” Fowler said. “This dinner is about having a conversation so we can share our stories and ancestry.”

Community members and students were able to visit many informational booths set up around the ballroom about different cultures and community international involvement.

“This is about connecting people of different religions, ethnicity and cultures,” said W. Roak Zeller, treasurer for the Dudince sister city organization. “The Slovak, Czech and Carpatho-rusyn communities of Kent were asked to connect to a city. We agreed and now we are sister cities with Dudince. The program is about connecting cities in America with cities overseas with similar interests. At tonight’s dinner, our group will be breaking bread with a traditional Slovak ritual.”

Other booths such as Nepal Student Association, St. Nicholas Balalaika Orchestra, Indian Student Association, German Family Society and representatives for study abroad opportunities were present at the event to answer questions about their groups.

“Religion makes up a big part of our culture, so we are here to answer any questions people might have,” said Safa Ghumrawi, freshman biochemistry major and a Muslim Student Association member. “This is my first community dinner, but I am very impressed. It allows all cultures to represent themselves and people are asking questions just to find out information, not to judge.”

Every element of the dinner was planned to incorporate diversity. Foods from different countries were served, performances from different cultures were performed and the conversation was centered on building Kent as a diverse community.

Muriel Breyley, a community member for 41 years, understood the event’s purpose.

“This has been a lot of fun and I got to meet a lot of new people,” Breyley said. “If people learn from people from different backgrounds, maybe they will understand each other better and get along.”

Phil Dotts, also a community member, agrees that the need for diversity is real.

“People are here from all over the world,” Dotts said. “Here we get to meet people we normally wouldn’t. We are truly an international community and we need to acknowledge that.”

Contact Honors College and international affairs reporter Rebecca Mohr at [email protected].