University hosts Embassy Dinner

A diverse group of about 150 dignitaries and GW community members convened in the Marvin Center Continental Ballroom Friday evening for the 71st annual Embassy Dinner. Dressed in formal or ethnic attire, attendees mingled with ambassadors and other diplomats, saw various cultural performances and received an exotic sampling of dishes from more than a dozen countries.

The event was co-sponsored by the International Student Society and the Multicultural Student Services Center.

The Republic of Cyprus, the Kingdom of Morocco, the Republic of Panama and the Ukraine were among the countries represented at this year’s dinner, “Colorful Expressions of the World.” The local embassies for several of the countries provided ethnic foods, including seafood, meat and pasta dishes, capped off with an expansive dessert table.

Sampling food was only one aspect of guests’ exposure to a variety of cultures and ethnicities.

“We want to honor the diversity of people, cultures and lifestyles that are represented here at the George Washington University,” said Laura Verduzco, vice president of the ISS. Verduzco, a native of Mexico, said she particularly enjoyed the event because she is an international student.

Although none of the visiting diplomats gave speeches, several were available for casual conversations. Rodolfo Coronado, second secretary from the Embassy of Peru, went table-to-table, sharing conversations and meals with those at the dinner.

“I’m thrilled that the food from my country is here,” Coronado told one table.

Cultural song and dance enhanced the international atmosphere, attendees said. GW Chamak, a South Asian culture dance group, the D.C. Turkish Folk Dance Troupe and other groups performed.

Accompanying on the piano, sophomore Yasmin Yaver, who is one-third Puerto Rican, Columbian and Lebanese, performed songs by Shakira and Mariah Carey.

Performances lasted as long as 15 minutes. The Return to Origins Greek Dance Troupe performed an eclectic mix of song and dance, culminating with a war dance from the time of the Trojan War.

MSSC Director Marisela Martinez said the variety of performances is part of what gives the Embassy Dinner a universal appeal.

“That’s what’s so special,” she said. “It really is for everyone.”

Martinez said the event afforded a cultural experience that some members of the GW community might otherwise not pursue.

“There are a lot of resources around D.C. (of which) people just don’t take advantage,” she said.

Although the dinner was the last major international event of the year, Martinez said she is looking forward to a new program that will be implemented next semester, “Diversity D.C. Style.” Each month, program organizers will take groups of 25 students to various cultural events or restaurants around the city.

Further information will be available in the coming months, she said.

Despite a mostly adult crowd, students in attendance said they enjoyed learning about other cultures represented by members of the GW student body.

Freshman Stephen Hallenbeck said the international atmosphere, particularly the embassies in the D.C. area, attracted him to GW above other universities.

Hallenbeck added he was excited about joining his honors seminar class for a trip to the local Buddhist temple on Sunday, in addition to attending the dinner.

“I guess this is my multicultural weekend,” he said.

looking forward to a new program that will be implemented next semester, “Diversity D.C. Style.” Each month, program organizers will take groups of 25 students to various cultural events or restaurants around the city.

Further information will be available in the coming months, she said.

Despite a mostly adult crowd, students in attendance said they enjoyed learning about other cultures represented by members of the GW student body.

Freshman Stephen Hallenbeck said the international atmosphere, particularly the embassies in the D.C. area, attracted him to GW above other universities.

Hallenbeck added he was excited about joining his honors seminar class for a trip to the local Buddhist temple on Sunday, in addition to attending the dinner.

“I guess this is my multicultural weekend,” he said.

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