On a Wednesday afternoon in an Olin Hall conference room, Sasi Wongchaisuvech MBA’23 watches her fellow Babson students gather for lunch.
Wongchaisuvech is the president of the Thai Graduate Club, which is hosting the lunchtime event, called Thai Food 101. Despite the fact the event wasn’t much advertised, the food has succeeded in drawing a larger than expected crowd. “I didn’t know it would turn out like this,” says Wongchaisuvech, who scrambles with other club members to rearrange tables and chairs for the hungry students.
The goal of the Thai Graduate Club, which was officially launched last year and is a reflection of the rich student diversity that can be found at Babson, is to build connections across the college and to share Thai culture and community. As students file through the lunch buffet of pad thai with shrimp, pork cheek, tofu, chicken drumsticks, and jasmine rice, Wongchaisuvech pours them Thai tea, which is very sweet and very good.
“I am so glad there are so many people in this room today,” she says.
What Connects Us
Wongchaisuvech came to Babson from her hometown of Bangkok, where the streets are filled with wonderful food and bustling crowds. “It’s a city that never sleeps,” she says. “In 24 hours, you can do anything.”
Thailand has much to offer visitors, she adds. “It’s a very good place to visit. We have everything,” Wongchaisuvech says. “We have mountains. In the south, we have beautiful beaches. It’s a land of freedom. It’s very open. People are nice. People are friendly.”
Babson is filled with many students, much like Wongchaisuvech, who are far from their homes. She hopes the Thai Graduate Club can be a place for them to find community, regardless of their backgrounds.
“We are a Thai club, but we want other people to join us as well,” she says. “We know what it is like to be far away from home. We are open to everyone. It’s not about your nationality. We are here to be friends with each other and support each other.”
The Thai Graduate Club has about 20 members and hosts various events, including soccer matches against neighboring colleges and activities that bring together Babson’s undergrad and grad students. Delicious and authentic Thai food is a typical feature of the club’s get-togethers. “It is one of the things that connects us together,” Wongchaisuvech says.
The Cultures of Babson
The Thai Graduate Club is a prime example of the international experiences and diversity that can be found at Babson. The club is just one of a number of campus organizations dedicated to students hailing from different countries and regions, and Thai Food 101 was part of International Education Week, a popular celebration of international education.
At Thai Food 101, as the music of Thai singer Nont Tanont plays and students line up for food, Lorien Romito talks about the strong attendance at all of Babson’s International Education Week events, which include a sushi-making workshop and a networking lunch with European entrepreneurs. At the College, Romito serves as the senior director of international education. “Students are eager to gather and celebrate the cultures of Babson,” she says.
“We are a Thai club, but we want other people to join us as well. We know what it is like to be far away from home. We are open to everyone. It’s not about your nationality. We are here to be friends with each other and support each other.”
Sasi Wongchaisuvech MBA’23, president of the Thai Graduate Club
Andrew Ajao MBA’24 fills his plate with shrimp, chicken, noodles, and rice at Thai Food 101. “Let’s get to eat,” he says. The event encapsulates what Ajao, who is from Nigeria, enjoys about studying at Babson. “One of the experiences that comes with the MBA journey is diversity,” Ajao says. “This is what I am looking for.”
New cultures, new perspectives—this is what Abdelmoula Bounakaya MBA’24 is seeking as well. “International students make the program rich in diversity,” he says. “It makes it a rich experience. You learn from the others.” That learning also encapsulates food. Hailing from Morocco, Bounakaya had tried Thai food for the first time only a few weeks earlier. “I love it,” he says. “It’s amazing.”
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