seal  Purdue News

December 15, 2003

Volunteers needed to give international students 'taste' of holidays

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Volunteers are needed to prepare side dishes for the third annual winter hospitality luncheon on Monday, Dec. 22.

The luncheon, for about 275 international students and scholars, begins at noon at St. Thomas Aquinas Center, 535 State St. The event is co-sponsored by Purdue University's Graduate School, International Students and Scholars and University Religious Leaders (URL),

"In the past it's been phenomenal, it's a great meal," said Whitney Jones, with University Religious Leaders. "The holiday meal adds a touch of kindness and allows everyone from a lot of different countries and backgrounds to celebrate a meal together."

About 70 side dishes are needed for the luncheon. A menu has already been prepared with recipes for the side dishes in case guests have dietary restrictions, Jones said. All recipes are without beef, pork or poultry.

Volunteers can sign up and obtain a recipe by contacting Jones at (765) 743-3612 or

The first winter hospitality luncheon was held in 2001 after international air travel was limited and considered dangerous only months after terrorists used commercial airliners in the 9/11 attack.

"It was so well-received that we did it again last year, and it keeps growing every year," Jones said. "This year will be record attendance."

The first year, about 200 students attended and last year, 225 students attended.

"After 9/11, it was an act of kindness offered by URL to international students who didn't travel home for winter break and students who weren't with family," said Michael Brzezinski, director of Purdue's International Students and Scholars program. "Students from many different countries attend the luncheon. There's no elaborate program. It's just a time for people to get together, eat and enjoy each other's company."

The luncheon will consist of a traditional American holiday meal, with turkey and several types of side dishes and desserts prepared by volunteers from the sponsoring organizations.

"Our goal is to make people who can't go home for the holidays feel welcome here in the Purdue community," Jones said.

Tom Atkinson, assistant dean of Purdue's Graduate School, said, "Because so many of the students remaining on campus over the holidays are international graduate students, the Graduate School is especially pleased to help sponsor the winter hospitality luncheon. When Dr. Brzezinski asked for our assistance, we were glad to say yes."

Purdue University has reached an all-time high in international student enrollment, maintaining its first-place ranking in international enrollment among the Big Ten universities and public institutions, according to a report released by the university.

Counted among Purdue's enrollment are 5,094 international students from 126 countries, making up 13.1 percent of the overall student population. Also, 681 international faculty and staff from 70 nations claim Purdue as their home this semester.

Writer: Reni Winter, (765) 496-3133,

Sources: Whitney Jones, (765) 743-3612,

Michael Brzezinski, (765) 494-7084,

Tom Atkinson, (765) 494-0245,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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