I must admit, I didn’t know what to expect as I walked into a room in McGinnis Center filled with international students.
Standing by the drinks, I noticed a few students in deep conversation — so I decided to jump right in and do the same.
I maneuvered myself near a group of Indian students and introduced myself; soon, I wondered why I had worried so much about what to say. Over harvest stew, at a table filled with people from across the world, we talked about our favorite places to eat on Brown Street and where we hoped to travel.
Breaking Bread is an intercultural program offered by the Center for International Programs, Community Wellness and the Office for Mission and Rector that brings international and American students together at the (literal and figurative) table over a three-week period. The first night, American students prepare traditional U.S. foods; the next week, international students prepare traditional foods from their home countries. For the final dinner, attendees share a meal in a student neighborhood house.
By dividing Breaking Bread into three separate events, the CIP created a structure that promotes “sustained interactions” and “culminating effects,” according to Tim Kao, associate director. “We find that for those who come to all three events, by the time the program ends, they have moved beyond just being acquaintances,” Kao said.
Three-time attendee Punit Gupta can certainly attest to new relationships forming as a result of the program. “I have made many friends through this event and I hang out with some of them during the weekends,” Gupta said. Encouraged by winning the first evening’s icebreaker challenge — a scavenger hunt of people’s interests and personalities — Gupta continued, “Breaking Bread brings students together to share in each other’s cultures; you gain information you may not be able to learn from books.”
At the end of the evening, after saying goodbye to my new-found friends, I felt full — and not just from an extra helping of stew. Reaching out and connecting with others, having the opportunity to grow, accept and learn: these are the main ingredients UD serves up daily.