Joe and Sandy Jenkins of Dubuque literally bought into the rich cultural exchange that is offered at Divine Word College. They were the high bidders of the Dinner Around the World package offered by the college and auctioned off during the Spring Bunch fundraiser in March.
On a cool Sunday evening in April, they sat down with six close relatives—Carole and Eugene Nauman, Janice and Larry Maiers, and Barb and Tom Halverson—to enjoy a four-course dinner prepared by DWC students from different countries. Each prepared a course that featured food from their native land.
“It was a wonderful evening,” Sandy Jenkins said. “All the dishes were very good. All had a nice
presentation and it was very interesting to have the various dishes from different countries.”
Sr. Ngoc-Anh Nguyen, LHC prepared the soup for the four-course, Dinner Around the World dining experience for the Jenkins and their guests.
The event was the brain child of Sandy Wilgenbusch, director of public relations at the college.
“We have so many cultures represented here and so many of our students are good cooks, so the idea just came together,” she said. “I thought it would be a fun way for people to try some different food and also meet some of our students.”
The Jenkins—long-time supporters of the college—knew what they were bidding on. Over the years, they’ve enjoyed a number of Lunar New Year and Mission Sunday dinners at DWC, which featured a variety of ethnic foods. They have also hosted visiting French students and have been members of the FAN (Friends Across Nations) Club, which connects students to local families and allows all concerned an opportunity to learn about their respective cultures. When one of their students, Giang Nguyen, graduated from DWC a few years ago, his parents stayed with the Jenkins.
“His mother had us making sushi, egg rolls and different Asian dishes,” Sandy said. “I knew how much fun that was. It was an awesome experience.”
So on the evening of Sunday, April 18, the couple and their guests arrived at DWC, where they were met at the door by Wilgenbusch and Fr. Linh Pham, SVD, and escorted to the formal dining room. As the students served their dishes, each told the group a little about themselves and about the food that they had prepared. It started with a Mexican tostados appetizer, prepared by Sr. Socorro Rodriquez, SSpS.
“She put very little spice in it,” Joe said. “She was amazed at how many spoonfuls of additional spice that some of us would put on it. It was very good.”
Sr. Ngoc-Anh Nguyen, LHC, prepared a Vietnamese soup made of bamboo, crab, shrimp and pork dumplings, and garnished with cilantro. Then came the main course—succulent Indonesian beef with black sauce, rice and fresh asparagus—prepared by Sr. Ana Julita Bele Bau, SSpS.
“She did a really nice job of garnishing it with tomatoes, they looked like flowers,” Sandy Jenkins said. “I was impressed.”
The dining experience was rounded out by dessert—a cream puff-style pastry, prepared by a group of Polish students.
“We didn’t go away hungry. There was more than enough food. We could have had seconds or thirds,” Joe said. “Our comment was that we don’t want to say it was too great because we want to keep the price down.” The sentiment was shared by his wife, thinking ahead to the next Spring Brunch auction.
“We just want to get it next year,” she said.