Hi, I’m Hormuz Dadabhoy, a fourth-year student studying Contemporary Asian Studies and Environmental Studies. You may have read my classmate Melissa Pallarca’s blog post on writing the proposal for CAS400Y’s ICM to the Chinese/ North Korean border and Seoul set to take place the end of this semester. Well, we were lucky enough to have our proposal selected by the Faculty of Arts and Science, who have provided a large portion of the funding needed for our trip. However, part of the ICM process is that students need to do some additional fundraising to cover the entire budget. So once we learned that our proposal was successful, the next step was to start planning fundraising initiatives to hold throughout the year in the lead-up to our trip in May 2014.

Modern Korea History was a transformative course for me. Professor Andre Schmid wowed us with his take on the material, but he also took the time to tell us about his experiences as an undergrad at U of T. One story that stood out was his experiences with EASSU (the East Asian Studies Student Union), and how they would host dumpling-making sessions around Lunar New Year. One year later, and one ICM proposal later, David, Melissa, and I were sitting down together trying to brainstorm fundraising ideas for our ICM. The generic bake sale had been suggested, but we were unexcited by that. Remembering Professor Schmid’s stories of his undergrad experiences, we thought, why not host a dumpling-making fundraiser?

I have always been a big fan of events that bring students and faculty together. In a school as large as U of T, I find it a great way to get to know often distant and intimidating professors as people, and for them to get to know students outside the classroom. However, having attended several “meet the faculty” type events, I always found that there was something lacking, a lack of interaction, a common goal almost... this was something I always wanted to improve on.

That’s where our idea became both unique and exciting. By getting students and professors together to actually make dumplings, it would build bonds in a way that simply gathering in a room does not. Students and faculty rolling up their sleeves and tackling this task together would create a fun and unique environment for conversations.

The event was an unprecedented success on many levels. The ICM team bonded through shopping, chopping, frying, and cleaning together in preparation for the event. On the day, we had twice the number of people that we expected, from a whole host of different disciplines, both graduates and undergraduates. The number of people and the feedback they gave vindicated our original objective. It really demonstrated that making food together is a communal experience, and a fun way to forge connections between faculty and students.

We also raised a whopping $475, far exceeding our expectations. For our next fundraising event, we’re planning a film screening on March 29 where we will show former Asian Institute graduate Ryan Pyle’s documentary film The Middle Kingdom Ride.