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International Dinner


Entertaining the packed house at Saturday's International Dinner at the First Presbyterian Church are Michel Lemorin, Azouke Sanon, Eli Aguilera, Alegba Etienne and Shariful Alam.

Partakers in Saturday's International Dinner fill their plates with food from many different parts of the world.

Rokeye Sultana performs a Bengali dance for the packed house at the International Dinner Saturday.
Farzana Musomi and Rokeya Sultana perform a Bengali dance for the packed house at the International Dinner Saturday evening.

By John Mason
Hudson-Catskill Newspapers
Published: Monday, May 2, 2011 2:11 AM EDT

HUDSON — A quick look at what’s on the table will tell you why it’s called an international dinner:

  • Russian-Jewish potato latkes.
  • Potatoes with ramps and arroz con pollo — chicken with rice — from Puerto Rico.
  • Corn and beef from Bangladesh.
  • Torta drosa from Italy.
  • Rice and beans from Haiti.
  • Mixed rice, or kichen, from Bangladesh.
  • Goat with onion and pepper, from Haiti.
  • Turkey chili.
  • Goat’s head soup, from Haiti.
  • Chicken from Bangladesh.
  • Basic cornbread.

There were few empty seats as people enjoyed the potluck fare at the 10th annual International Community Dinner Saturday evening at the First Presbyterian Church in Hudson.

“I’m incredibly moved by the number of nationalities who are here,” said Martin Baumgold, who has been with the dinner since its inception in 2002.

Karen Frishkoff, also a long-time organizer of the event, said this year saw the most people originally from Bangladesh take part. She thought WGXC’s airing of programs directed at specific ethnic communities may have helped publicize it.

Alegba Etienne, a bass player/singer/songwriter, and Michel Lemorin, a guitarist/singer/songwriter, came up from New York City to play at the event.  Lemorin is from Les Cayes, the third largest city in Haiti. He said when he was recently in Port au Prince, he had tears in his eyes.

“Thirty years ago, it was a great place to grow up,” he said. “Now, I don’t know what the kids are going to do. It’s unbelievable what I saw: Like a war zone. But the people are so courageous. Every night, a lot of block parties, drinking, loud music. The police on the corner, not trying to stop them. Under the tents, they have discotheques.”

Pierre Anasta told the crowd he wants to start a senior citizens center next to his boxing club on Town Hall Drive in Greenport. The center would operate from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. five days a week, he said, and he’s looking for volunteers.

Also present this time around were Oscar Heyward and Cathy Surgenor, members, along with Carline Seide-Murphy of Columbia County, of the Northeast Task Force of the Committee for the Self-Development of People, or SDOP, of the Presbyterian Church.

Heyward said SDOP’s grant programs provide startup funds for endeavors that will help people take themselves to a higher quality of life. Three times a year, task force members meet to discuss grant applications received. Grants are awarded in amounts up to $20,000; the recipients must be low-income, and they must be applying on their own behalf.

And the grants must be environmentally friendly and non-violent in nature.

In 2005, Murphy’s group, the Haitian Community Development Program, received a $20,000 grant from SDOP. Now she’s a task force member and is reaching out to the local community to get people to apply.

“The best thing about the grant is, you don’t have to be Presbyterian to get it,” Murphy said. “If you see a need in your community, you will be qualified.”

The Presbyterian Church gives out $9 million in funding a year. Of this, one-third goes to low-income groups who come up with ideas to solve the problems they’re facing, Surgenor said.

One example of a grant they made was to fund an immigrant center to confront abuses against the local immigrant community. Another, in Portland, Maine, was to provide refugees with education.

“If you want to start a bakery, we can give you startup funds,” she said.

Pamela Badila asked if there would be money for a multicultural arts center; Heyward said the money needed for purchase beyond the $20,000 must be in place.

The evening also featured movement games led by Jill Fleming, music performed by Azouke Sanon, Alegba Etienne, Michel Lemorin and Eli Aguilera, as well as by Shariful Alam and dancing by Rokeya Sultana and Farzana Musomi.

To reach reporter John Mason, call 518-828-1616, ext. 2266, or e-mail


HCDP Music Program The International Dinner is scheduled for Saturday, April 26, 2008 at the First Presbyterian Church from 4:30 to 7:00 PM.

This event features traditional cuisine, music and dancing from Latin America, Europe, Africa and India. Everyone is welcome. Bring a dish to share!


The Committee for the International Culinary Art Cultural Festival, Carline Seide-Murphy, Karen Frishkoff, Sonia Cintron, Nina Slansky and Hosne Ara Kader, the Haitian Community Development Project, Inc. and others would like to thank the Columbia County Council on the Arts for the continuous support we have received that had made this year's sixth annual event another successful one.

As in the previous years, the committee was hard at work locating new talents and encouraging past participants of diverse cultures and heritage to come together with music, ethnic food and good fellowship. Most of the performing artists like Abby Lappen, Azouke and friends, Juan Basilio Sanchez from Nicaragua, Grandma's Angel (AME Church), performers of songs from Bangladesh, and Martin Baumgold (for sound), have been generous and very supportive of this event year after year.

In 2007, with the additional grant, Nina's donated items for a raffle and donations of art supplies we were able to invite Marlene Marshall, a well-known Collage artist, to set an art table for the children. Sonia Cintron brought students from her Spanish class at the Hawthorne Valley school to perform the well-known song "Guantanamera" in Spanish at no cost. The very popular local dance group of at-risk youth "Creative Groove Entertainment" led by a well admired young African-American, Stephen "Bush" Moore, performed their popular Hip Hop moves. We were fortunate to have The Irish Set, a trio with group members in Albany and in Columbia County, ended the evening with their lively dance and music performance.

This event has become a venue of opportunity in many ways. The community benefits immensely from event like this, as it unifies the people and their cultures into one large community.

2nd Annual International Community Dinner

Eighty people from around the community brought food from spots around the globe as distant and as near as Haiti, Puerto Rico, Bangladesh and Italy. Diners served themselves and ate at tables or standing up since diners outnumbered the chairs.

The children worked on a mural on a large sheet of yellow paper hanging in the back of the room. Drummers and dancers appeared in front of the mural and entertained with music and dance from Africa, Ecuador and Cuba.

The event was co-charied ny Karen Frishkoff of Harlemville and Carline Seiede of Kinderhook.

Haitian Community Development Project
PO Box 35 Niverville, NY 12130 * (518)784-4395 *

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