by Kelsey Meehan
The lab cafeteria at the University of Regina was bustling with activity, conversation and the comforting smell of home-cooked food on September 20th.
Over 150 international students from across Regina were joined by their families and volunteers from the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) of Canada in celebration of building new international friendships and cross-cultural understandings.
Stan Klassen, organizer of the 18th annual international friendship dinner, said that he was pleased by this year's turnout and that he hoped the event would help make international students feel welcome in Regina.
"It's really important to give these students a chance to meet Canadians who are interested in cross-cultural friendships," Klassen said.
Tables and chairs spilled into the university hallway while gatherers lined up for a Canadian-style potluck dinner with an international flare, serving up dishes representative of many cultures. Drumming andfreestyle rap demonstrations, an international student alumni panel and
a video presentation about upcoming international student events were also part of the festivities.
"I think the students really flock to these kind of events because they're eager to meet friendly people. A lot of the university students here tend not to leave the campus, so this is a great social gathering for them," Klassen explained.
Miyoung Kim, who moved to Korea with her 14-year-old son Chris 13 months ago, echoed Harding's sentiment and said it is very important to do what you can to settle in to a new country.
"I really like these events," said Kim, "Sometimes you can be a little lonely as a minority, but we like Regina," she said.
This year marked the 18th consecutive year that the international friendship dinner was held.
Besides teaching young people who are new to Canada about what it means to be a Saskatchewan Roughriders fan, Canadian volunteers with IVCF aim to connect with one or a few students to show them around the city and help broaden their horizons on North American life.
"Canadians really are interested in other cultures and that's why this is so important," said Lee Harding, IVCF volunteer.
"Your experience in Canada is going to be what you make it, so don't be afraid to reach out," he said.