Students recently held the first ever International Hall in College, and the International Graduate Lecture suppers reached their tenth anniversary.

St John’s held its first International Hall on Wednesday 15 February. Over 80 international undergraduate and graduate students joined to enjoy a wonderful dinner, reflecting the diversity of the student population in College.

Venezuela flag

The cuisine for this first International Hall was from Venezuela. The kitchens collaborated with Venezuelan undergraduate Sofia Kirwan-Baez to create a menu of dishes, including chupe criollo, pabellón criollo (Venezuela's national dish) and quesillo. An excellent time was had by all, and there are plans for this event to continue each term.

President Maggie Snowling, whose idea it was to have an International Hall, commented, ‘Food brings people together and is fundamental to family and friendship; I hope that sharing our national cuisines is one way we can celebrate the diversity of our College community.' 

St John's chefs Paul Barnes and Dan Burke welcomed the experience, too: 'It was great to have new dishes to learn, a challenge to create them for so many people but it was all done by taste, and in the end it turned out very well. It was a really good night, and these new dishes can now become part of our menus.'

Sam Kim, MCR Black and Minority Ethnic Students' Officer, also welcomed the event, saying, 'I’m really proud that St John’s is reflecting the diversity of its students through new initiatives like International Hall. For students who come from abroad, small things like food from home make a large difference, so it’s great to see College try to make all students feel welcome during their time in Oxford.' 

The event was followed on Monday 20 February with the latest International Graduate Lecture supper. In this series, now marking its tenth anniversary, a graduate student delivers a lecture about their country to an audience of students and senior members, followed by supper. This term's lecture, from Phacharaphorn Phanomvan, was titled 'Lost Kingdoms: Early History, Heritage and Archaeological Sites in Thailand and its Neighbours'. It was followed by a Thai supper. 

The International Graduate Lecture suppers run each term and have proved incredibly popular with the St John's graduate community. Over ten years the lectures have featured 38 speakers from more than 30 countries.

" The evening was a great success! The food was incredible and the atmosphere in Hall was really special. I look forward to the dinner next term. " Jan Schwarzfischer, JCR International Students Officer

International Hall and International Graduate Supper