2017-03-01 / Shorts

A One-Night Ticket to Southeast Asian Culture

Global Connections’ ninth annual Passport on a Plate gala set for March 26
Kristen Sanchez

Traveling the world can be a life-changing experience, but flights overseas are expensive and long. What if you had the chance to experience authentic Southeast Asian culture for one night right here in State College? On March 26, Global Connections, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting intercultural understanding, will host its biennial Passport on a Plate gala, which features food, décor and entertainment from various Southeast Asian countries.

The Passport on a Plate event, which began in 2001, brings multifaceted aspects of specific cultures from all over the world to State College. This year’s Southeast Asian theme will include dishes and hors d’oeuvres ranging from Filipino kinilaw, a dish similar to ceviche, to Vietnamese banh flan, as well as table décor handcrafted by individuals in the community and live entertainment inspired by the culture. There also will be a silent auction of various items, including photographs signed by Penn State alumnus Steve McCurry, known for his world-famous photograph “Afghan Girl.”

Marissa Schaeffer, the Nittany Lion Inn’s new executive chef, will provide the wide array of ethnicfoods, and David Price will emcee. “We are presenting a very special evening,” says Susan Steinberg, president of the Global Connections board. “We want everyone to feel that they are getting a real cultural, culinary and learning experience as well as an enjoyable evening.”

Steinberg hopes international community members and local residents alike will join them at the Nittany Lion Inn — a new venue for the gala — for this unique cultural experience. All of the proceeds will go to the many programs offered through Global Connections, such as the Conversation Partner Program and English as a second language classes, all aimed at giving internationals a comfortable environment in which they can learn about the local culture and make lifelong friends. “Our programs are all about friendship and making people feel comfortable,” Steinberg says. And as for the goal of the gala, she says, “We simply want people to understand who we are, appreciate what we do for the community, and support us while having a lovely evening.” Visit to purchase tickets, which are $150, or for more information.

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