Cultural dinner highlights the life of faculty member

Foreign currencies are displayed throughout the cafeteria during the cultural dinner.

The cultural feast stuffed the bellies and inspired the minds of MCCC foreign language students.

German, French, and Spanish students celebrated cultural diversity at a dinner in the cafeteria near the end of Fall semester.

The aroma of dinner filled the air while attendees waited in line for French beef bourguignon, Polish sausages, Spanish rice, and Mexican tacos. At the end of the table were churros and German chocolate cake for dessert.

MCCC foreign language professors provided cultural treasures for students to explore and enjoy.

Tables lined the cafeteria windows, displaying postcards, books, photo albums, and trinkets that professors gathered traveling to different countries.

Irish guest speaker and assistant professor of art, Therese O’Halloran, told her life story after dinner.

“I’m from a small town in Ireland called Foxford,” she said. “Very rugged, rural area, lots of stone walls, lots of history.”

She said Foxford had roughly 800 people.

O’Halloran’s adventures included being knocked down by a car, but that didn’t keep her down. She recovered and put in the dedication to work on a career in pottery. 

“I decided the way to get experience was to go to school, then go work for different potters,” she said. 

O’Halloran traveled from Ireland to Wales, Holland, China, and eventually to Monroe.

“I was always very interested in teaching and encouraging my students to explore, go forward, and see what they can see,” she said.

She encouraged the audience at dinner to leave their comfort zone and recognize the larger world outside this little town.

“I ended up crossing the Irish sea at night; this guy picked me up in a car, and I worked for him for three months,” O’Halloran said.

She laughs about the memory and said she probably would not do it again, but it all worked out well.

“I wouldn’t encourage my daughter to do that; seriously, no,” O’Halloran said. “But that’s taking that step forward, having enough leave for yourself to go forward, and try something new.”

O’Halloran said traveling comes with the challenges of language barriers, but she said you have to trust people to help guide you, and she reassured everyone that people will help.

“I was traveling alone, but the experiences you gain are amazing and the people are amazing,” she said. 

O’Halloran said every time she traveled, she learned something new.

“I learned a lot about culture, knowledge about myself, knowledge about my work,” she said. “You’re gonna have to make your own way and figure out what you’re gonna do.”

MCCC French student Nikolaos Mantas said he enjoyed O’Halloran’s talk.

“It’s always interesting to hear someone from another culture,” he said.

O’Halloran’s emphasis on taking risks left an impression on Mantas.

“Take that chance and it might work out,” he said. “Carpe diem—seize the day.”