Around the world in one night: Quinnipiac’s International Business Society hosts annual dinner

Aidan Sheedy, Copy Editor

Clacking heels, distinctive conversations and smooth jazz reverberated around Burt Kahn Court as empty bellies entered the room ready to eat on Nov. 2nd.

Quinnipiac University’s International Business Society has hosted its annual dinner since 2000 to raise money for the Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, a New Haven-based non-profit organization dedicated to assisting new arrivals to the U.S.

The IB dinner served food inspired by places from around the world through local businesses like Ixtapa Grille, Bangkok Boulevard and China Chef. Tickets were $8 per person, and the event raised just under $1000.

IBS President Joseph Coverly, a junior international business and computer information systems double major, was fittingly the first speaker of the night. Coverly said he organized the event with high hopes as the organization more than 70 tickets.

“I truly believe I have one of the best e-boards in Quinnipiac,” Coverly said. “I put them through the wringer and they came out on top.”

Coverly, a Navy veteran and co-manager of the student-run On The Rocks pub, added running this event to his resume, but not without the help of his peers.

“This dinner could have been a big stressor in my life,” Coverly said. “It was a joy to plan because of how much my e-board had my back.”

After the event, dean of the School of Business Holly Raider said she’s proud of her students because of nights like these.

“The very best of business people find the win-wins,” Raider said. “The only way that you can do that is understand people’s perspectives.” 

Chris George, executive director of IRIS, spoke after Coverly in the opening remarks. He educated the crowd on the work of the organization and the strong connections and relationships he’s made. He put one of those connections in the spotlight as he invited guest speaker Bashir Watandost, a refugee from Afghanistan, who now works as an employment services specialist with IRIS.

In a moving story of leaving family and political distress, Watandost left an impression in the crowd.

“I just want to tell (Americans), just think about Afghans or refugees, if you were in their shoes, what would you feel?” Watandost told the Chronicle. “I want to ask Americans help refugees as much as you can.”

Bashir Watandost, an Afghan refugee, spoke at the International Business Dinner on his new life in the U.S. as a member of Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services. (Aidan Sheedy)

Watandost said he was forced out by the Taliban and had to leave his wife and family behind. Watandost emotionally described his new life for everyone to the crowd.

“I am here and I am American,” Watandost said in his speech. “We are here doing great (work) for my people, for everyone, and we have such people like Chris George to thank.”

After the roaring applause, the moment everyone was waiting for finally came. It was time to eat. There were over 20 dishes lined up at each end of the court, giving attendees more than enough options to choose from.

Sophomore nursing major Isabella Chambers said that she ate a little bit of everything, including some dishes she had never even heard of.

“My favorite part was getting to try all the different food,” Chambers said. “It was really cool, because there was some food there that I had never eaten before.”

The night saw many unique cuisines. Chambers said she tried a samosa for the first time, a savory, fried, cone-shaped appetizer from Cumin India in Hamden. But there was one more component—Irish step dancing.

As an annual tradition, the IBS invites the Quinnipiac Irish step dance team to perform during dinner. Chambers said she was amazed at what club can do on the floor.

“It just seems like they were flying through the air,” Chambers said. “They had so much skill, and it was kind of crazy to see how much they could do in such a short time.”

Mohammad Elahee, professor of international business and the IBS’s advisor, said the purpose of this event was to create awareness about international issues, cultures and the world outside of the U.S. through cuisine.

“Everything is global,” Elahee said. “Every business is an international business. Our students have to know how to compete against competitions coming from other countries.”

Elahee said that it’s these kinds of programs that enhance students’ global perspectives when going into the future of business.

“This shows that our students are engaged global citizens and they care about society,” Elahee said. “Quinnipiac (helps) students become a more well-rounded person.”

Raider said these types of events like this improve the education for students.

“I think one of the things that gets in the way of good ideas … is the inability to take on other people’s perspectives,” Raider told the Chronicle. “It’s when you can see the world through multiple alternative lenses that new and different solutions can present themselves.