Six U cultural centers partner for funds

MISA’s Feast of Nations on Saturday cost $14,000.

Senior Shazzad Juman sings “Yeh Pal” Saturday night in the Great Hall.

Senior Shazzad Juman sings “Yeh Pal” Saturday night in the Great Hall.

Laura Sievert

What does it take to host a 2,000-plate multicultural feast and variety show? Six student groups, three months of planning and a five-figure price tag, for starters.
Hosting its annual free dinner and show Saturday night cost the Minnesota International Student Association  about $14,000. To cover the cost of more than 2,000 dinners, MISA partnered with five other student groups, applied for grants and sought discounts with vendors.
The Feast of Nations attracted more than 700 people to a variety show. More than 1,000 were there for the feast afterward, at which each person was allowed two passes at the buffet.
MISA collaborated with five other student groups to arrange the event, including the Cambodian Student Association of Minnesota, the Persian Student Organization of Minnesota, the African Student Association, the Japan Student Association and Global China Connection. Planning for the feast began in August, MISA President Harsh Mankodi said.
The Feast of Nations received grants totaling $11,300, slightly more than last year, MISA treasurer Harshal Patel said. The remaining cost was covered by MISA, which received $33,500 this year in student service fees. The grants were given by University student government groups.
The food was the most expensive aspect of the Feast of Nations âÄî costing between $7,000 and $8,000 âÄî but also the most important, Patel said. The groups used personal connections they had to get discounts from restaurants.
âÄúThese organizations have relationships with restaurants and DJs locally, so it actually saves money,âÄù Mankodi said.
About 10 restaurants catered the feast, featuring food from many countries around the world. KabobâÄôs, a restaurant specializing in Pakistani and Indian cuisine, gave MISA a $500 discount on the paneer tikka masala âÄî an Indian curry âÄî among other dishes it provided.
The second largest expense was lighting for the culture show, which cost $2,000. The show included several cultural dances, music performances, theater acts and a fashion show.
According to Erik Dussault, a Student Unions and Activities advisor, student groups can receive grants through four different initiatives with the University. Each student group involved with an event can receive up to $1,000 from the Student Services Fees Committee for each of these initiatives.
Mankodi said MISA partnered with other groups for the financial benefits, but that was not the only reason for the collaboration.
âÄúEach group could give a legitimate representation of their own culture,âÄù he said.
MISA required each organization to be involved with the feast on order to be affiliated with hosting it. For example, the Japan Student Association had a booth showcasing Japanese history, cuisine and geography, and the Cambodian student group performed a dance during the show.
âÄúWorking with [the other groups] is not just to have their name on the paper and get more money,âÄù Mankodi said. âÄúWe really want the groups to be involved.âÄù
MISA is designed to help international students adjust to life in the United States as well as to create cultural awareness within the University of Minnesota. It has hosted the Feast of Nations since 2002.