International Foods Night at Otero College Always a Popular Event

Description: Flags from many countries decorated the Rizzuto Banquet Hall at Otero College for the 28th Annual International Foods Night, held Oct. 9, 2023.

Published: 11/11/2023
Byline: Keefer


With flags from across the world, hanging colorfully from the ceiling, the Rizzuto Banquet Hall at Otero College attracted folks from across the valley at the 28th Annual International Foods Night at Otero College Oct. 9.

Following opening remarks by Maureen Rickof, Director of the International Program, and a welcome by new college President Dr. Kimberly Zant, guests were treated with entertainment provided by some of the international students.

Svetlana Stroitelava, from Russia, read a poem, "A Letter to a Woman," by Sergey Esenin, first in Russian and then in English. Celia Keck, Julia Kottbauer and Hedda Koehne from Germany sang and danced a funny German song.

Andres Escalante and Katia Nekic served as masters of ceremony. 

The delicious meal, prepared by Victor Agena of Sodexo Food Services and his staff, was served by the students. The menu included Appetizers: Bruschetta (Italy), Chicken Teriyaki Potstickers (Japan), and Beef Empanadas (Spain); Entrees: Istiran Jota (Croatia), Elotes (Mexico), and Sinangag (Philippines); and Desserts: Brownie de Chocolate (Peru); Sharbat (Ancient Persia) and Baklava (Greece).

A new feature this  year was a photo booth, enjoyed by both students and guests. As usual, guests stuffed raffle tickets into boxes, hoping to go home with some donated prizes such as Otero athletic gear, community concert tickets, gift certificates from local restaurants, and even a huge teddy bear. The silent auction had people scurrying to write their names down before the sheets were picked up, with more donated items such as art from Otero staff, gift baskets, more Otero gear, and even a chance to have some fun with an excavator up for grabs. Auctioneer Jace Honey made the live auction especially lively, with several bid-offs. Live auction items included what was billed as a "huge" rock, two jars of salsa made by International Student coordinator Jamie Mendoza, a photography package, two La junta-opoly games plus cocktails, and more.

The evening concluded with live entertainment by Mariachi Lobos.

This year Otero is hosting 75 students from 35 countries.

Because most of the scholarship winners were in class the night of the banquet, the names will be released at a later date.

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Student servers bustled around serving the delicious food prepared by Sodexo Food Services.

Celia Keck, Julia Kottbauer, and Hedda Koehne from Germany had fun dancing and singing to a German song.

Svetlana Stroiteleva from Russia read a poem in both Russian and English.

Masters of ceremony Katia Nekic and Andres Escalante

Otero College President Dr. Kimberly Zant welcomed guests to International Foods Night.