Diversity celebrated at potluck

Asem Abdelfattah

Staff Writer

The International Student Cultural Organization (ISCO) organized “The Melting Potluck Dinner” to celebrate human diversity and to provide support for Troy students and community members affected by President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

Joe McCall, a senior history lecturer and faculty adviser to the ISCO, said that the purpose of Sunday’s event was to gather the Muslims, Middle Easterners, everyone affected directly or indirectly by the recent ban and everyone that wanted to support them to sit together, talk and break bread away from political conflict.

“The event was designed to celebrate the Muslim and Middle Eastern community,” McCall said. “Students of all nationalities gathered for fellowship and to break bread.

“Our purpose was to show our support to all those affected by the recent ban and to provide a night free from political conflict for all attendees.”

Elise Robinson, a social science graduate student from Decatur and an organizer for the dinner, said that the recent travel ban on seven countries “broke (her) heart” and that she had to do something about it.

“I contacted Professor Joe McCall, and I told him of my dream — to have dinner,” Robinson said. “An opportunity for us to invite our Muslim community to supper and serve them, to make them feel welcomed and loved and supported.”

McCall said the event was made possible through the organizers’ dedication and the community’s passion and contribution towards the issue.

“About 140 students, faculty and staff brought food, table settings and side dishes,” McCall said. “The International Office provided the soup through Sodexo, our ISCO students raised some of the funds through donations, dug into their own pockets, and we used some of the ISCO treasury funds to pay for the event.

“It was truly a grass-roots effort, largely delivered by a small group of dedicated students.”

McCall said he received positive responses from the event.

“For those who didn’t attend, you would have all been proud of the compassion, kindness and concern expressed by our domestic students, and you would have been touched to hear the heartfelt thanks and gratitude many of our Muslim students shared with me during and after the dinner,” McCall said.

“While the dinner does not resolve their concerns, they expressed how much the gesture meant to them as members of our Troy family.”

Jahaan Bharucha, a freshman sport management major from Mumbai, India, and an SGA senator, said that he was happy that he could attend.

“I was really glad to be able to attend this event and show support to all the Muslim and Middle Eastern students,” Bharucha said. “Even as an international student myself, I couldn’t imagine how they must feel with all that’s happening and all that might happen.

“Today, there were many fears and concerns shared and discussed, and I am happy that they were because perhaps this helped alleviate them.”

Yousef Alyeshiei, an ESL student from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and an ISCO member, said that he was in high spirits after the event.

“This event meant a lot to me and to everyone attending,” Alyeshiei said. “All we did was sit together, talk and eat, but it was one of the most bonding experiences I had.

“I feel more comfortable being at Troy now, and I’m in better spirit.”

Robison made a special thank-you note to all the students affected by the ban for sharing their concerns and feelings and for supporting the dinner.

“I want to especially thank our Muslim and Middle Eastern community, and anyone affected by the ban regardless of region or religion,” Robinson said. “You were our honored guests, and I hope you felt the love we wanted to portray to you last evening, and thank you for sharing yourselves with us.

“No matter how long or short your time here is, you have left a piece of yourself, and we thank you for making America a part of your journey. Thank you for trusting me to speak out on your behalf. I hope we did you justice.”

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