Food, friends, and fundraising for CCSF

The Guardsman
Marilyn Fernando

Providing a spot of light from the gloom of ongoing financial woes caused by continuing budget cuts at the Civic Center campus, its student council organized International Students Day, a fundraiser held at the Civic Center campus on April 20.

Rick Kaprra, ESL teacher at the Civic Center campus, encouraged and lead the student council to hold this event.  2002 is the last time International Students Day was held, and according to Kaprra, was minimal in comparison to the recent celebration.

Even in the face of uncertainty concerning attendance, Kappra and his student staff stayed positive.  “I overheard the students saying things like “What if no one comes?” While their outcome was on the humble side, both the student and faculty organizers were ecstatic of the outcome. “Of the 200 passports that we had for distribution, only 100 are still available,” Kappra said.

Huong Nguyen, a Vietnamese student who volunteered on student council and helped plan the event also commented on the attendance. “I was so surprised that people came, even people who aren’t registered are here,”  Nguyen said.

The primarily student council-run event had a very simple format. Guests were greeted with the option of  buying $1 food tickets tickets and attaining a “passport”.  Various rooms were decorated to represent different countries.  Every time food was purchased, passport received a stamp representing that room’s “country.”  This event inspired Nguyen as well as many others to learn more about the other students.  “I discovered new things about other cultures,” Nguyen said,“food and history are the most interesting.”   In addition to photographs, costumes, displays and food, traditional performers made appearances as well.

The countries represented were as varied as the student population.  China, the Ukraine, Thailand, Mongolia, Japan, Korea, Bangladesh, Russia, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Vietnam, Belarus, Lativa, and the Middle East were among those presented at the event.  Countries like Morocco and Saudi Arabia closed earlier for religious reasons.

Each room was decorated accordingly, with traditionally-dressed students standing in front of photographs and displays, with the anticipation of either serving beautifully prepared food, speaking about their own cultural origins, or simply chatting to practice their English.  “Students feel more calm with each other after an event like this,” Beth Erikson, sign language teacher at the Civic Center campus said.

Smiles and laughter were everywhere. Both the attendants and presenters were ecstatic and enthusiastic despite the beaming heat of the Friday afternoon sun.   “I’ve been on this campus or 20 years,” Erikson said, “ I like working here because the energy is always up high.”

The Guardsman