• Harris Callahan

Reflections on the 2014 International Food Festival: A word from the President

It is with great pleasure and graciousness that I call the 2014 International Food Festival a success. It was the third annual edition of the event once again held at the SSMU Ballroom. For Borderless World Volunteers, the IFF organizing committee, and for myself personally, it is truly a joy to see this idea grow, flourish and become a must-attend event during the McGill school year.

Very briefly, the aim of the International Food Festival is to celebrate the cultural diversity of the McGill community and the city of Montreal. By partnering with various student groups and local Montreal restaurants, IFF is meant to be a bridge-builder. As a native Montrealer, I’ve found that the McGill community, while vibrant and enriching, is concentrated in a palpable bubble within the downtown area. To be able to bring the city and student body closer together is an accomplishment that we are particularly proud of.

The International Food Festival organizing committee have worked diligently since September to put the event together. Aside from two holdovers from previous committees (myself included), the committee was made up of complete newcomers. Most had not heard about the International Food Festival or Borderless World Volunteers before joining the team, but came to embrace the ideals of the event quickly. As president, I could not be more proud to see how they pulled together and shared in the responsibility of professional and fun event.

The mission statement of Borderless World Volunteers has always centred around empowering and training youth leaders in international and local development. While the organization works year round to send student volunteers abroad to implement sophisticated and creative projects, the work we do on campus and in the city of Montreal is equally important. The International Food Festival is, after all, a fundraiser for the organization. The IFF committee goes beyond organizing the event. Giving students the chance to take on leadership and planning roles provides them with valuable experience about fundraising and coordination in any developmental organization.

This focus on student empowerment extends beyond the BWV volunteers and the International Food Festival committee. From the get-go, education was given a higher priority this year. IFF is supposed to be a festive and exciting event, but we made every effort not to lose sight of the motives underlying it. We took great care to ensure elaboration on the cultural specifics/background of our talented performers and cuisine at this year’s event. We wanted our guests and the McGill community to know more about Borderless World Volunteers' work here in the city and abroad.

I have high hopes for the future of the International Food Festival. My wish is to have it grow into a marquee event at McGill and the city of Montreal. The event as an annual institution is still in its infancy, but every step forward at this point is a great achievement. With the continued support of Borderless World Volunteers, the McGill community, and the citizens of Montreal, I’m confident that the International Food Festival will carry on having a positive impact and be a point of joy for everyone involved. Haaris KhanPresident2014 International Food Festival

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