Cultural diversity celebrated at international brunch

11.24.2013 | By


San Jacinto College’s International Thanksgiving Brunch brought together students from many nationalities for a multicultural feast. At left, Maria Williams, coordinator of the North Campus English for Speakers of Other Languages program, helped organize the event. With her (from left) are ESOL students Dominga Silva (Mexico), Rungthip Taylor (Thailand), Tina Trang Khong (Vietnam), and Uyen Ngo, (Vietnam). Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.


Cultural diversity celebrated at international brunch


Visitors literally got a taste of many cultures at the recent International Thanksgiving Brunch, hosted by the San Jacinto College North Campus English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program, and held at the North Campus student center.

Some international food featured at the brunch included Bo Kho, a Vietnamese beef stew; Cuñapes, bread made with cheese and yucca starch that is popular in Bolivia; Pupusas, Salvadorian stuffed masa flatbread; Arroz Congris, a rice and bean dish popular in Cuba; Pollo en Jocon, a spicy chicken dish popular among Mayans in Guatemala; Aguachile, a shrimp dish that originated in Sinaloa, Mexico; and Pad Preaw Wan, a sweet-sour fish dinner from Thailand.

Nationalities represented by San Jacinto College students who attended the epicurean extravaganza include Bolivia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Cuba, Mexico, Thailand, and Vietnam.

ESOL students Blanca Lopez from Mexico, and Uyen Ngo from Vietnam welcomed guests, outlined the agenda, and introduced guest speakers. As visitors sampled main dishes and desserts from around the world, a slideshow displayed scenes from a multitude of cultures.

San Jacinto College ESOL professor Lisa Smith said the brunch provided opportunities to celebrate the College’s rich cultural diversity. “Sometimes we just need to be reminded that our country began as a nation of people coming from many different cultures seeking freedom from oppression and an opportunity to create a better life,” Smith remarked. “That gives us a wonderful reason to celebrate our rich heritage. By accepting one another and learning from each other, we are learning more about ourselves and what makes our nation so incredibly unique.”

Vietnamese student Tina Trang Khong enjoyed samples of food from many cultures as she visited with people from several ethnic backgrounds. For Khong, taking ESOL classes at San Jacinto College lead to practical benefits. “I heard that San Jacinto was a very good college, and I took the ESOL classes because I wanted to quickly improve my English skills,” she commented. “When I first enrolled in ESOL, I could not speak any English. Now, I am able to communicate well enough so that I can help my husband in his business.” Khong’s husband Jimmy operates an import and export business, and she helps him with administrative services.

There are 423 students from 58 nations attending the three San Jacinto College campuses on international visas, most of whom take ESOL classes. There are also hundreds of other students from outside the U.S. who attend classes at San Jacinto College either as part-time or full-time students who are not international visa students.

Accordingly, there are international counselors at all three San Jacinto College campuses who help students who attend on international visas with services such as educational planning, counseling, and registration assistance; assistance with requirements of immigration law and cross-cultural adjustment; processing of immigration documents related to passports, visas, employment authorization, changes in legal status, and transfer to and from other schools.

San Jacinto College offers ESOL classes at all three campuses. Through the program, people with very limited English skills can become proficient in the language in as little as two semesters. The program covers oral communication, reading, and writing skills to prepare students for college, careers, and the workplace. For details, please visit


About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College. For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit, or follow us on Facebook at