Over 200 people attended the 16th annual International Dinner Fundraiser hosted by Welcoming the Stranger, a Langhorne-based nonprofit that provides free English as a Second Language courses throughout Bucks County.
It was held on Oct. 22 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Hall in Bensalem.
Many of the attendees were students in the programs, who provided food reflecting their native cultures from all over the world for the buffet-style meal. In all, there were over 20 nations represented.
“It was wonderful. Lots of students, lots of great food,” said Welcoming the Stranger Executive Director Meg Eubank. She mentioned Russian salad, German brisket, Chinese dumplings and Iraqi rice as some of the dishes prepared and served.
During the event, Ardmore Presbyterian Church was recognized for its charitable donations to these programs over the years, and Lansdale-based musician Andy Prescott played.
Three of the students even gave testimonials about the program, their first time giving a public address in English.
“It was baptism by fire,” Eubank joked.
In addition to the ELS courses, Welcoming the Stranger has free computer skills and citizenship preparation for immigrants and refugees across Lower Bucks County. Classes are held in Bensalem, Langhorne, Levittown, Morrisville, Newtown, Southampton and Warminster.
The program, started in 1999 by the Rev. Sturgis Poorman, was originally part of the ministry of the Lower Bucks Center for Church and Community. It became a fully independent nonprofit in 2009, operating out of Langhorne.
Since its founding, more than 3,000 students from 99 nations have taken these classes. More than 200 immigrants have become U.S. citizens through the citizenship preparation classes.
For information on Welcoming the Stranger classes, call 215.702.3445 or visit welcomingthestranger.org.