Day in the Life: Iowa City Foreign Relations Council


The Iowa City Foreign Relations Council (ICFRC) seeks to promote understanding of international issues by hosting community forums with expert speakers from around the world.

Honors at Iowa sponsors free participation for honors students interested in the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council. Almost weekly, the ICFRC hosts expert discussions of global issues by statesmen, scholars, scientists, journalists, students, and more. The catered lunches are special treats as well, typically sampling cuisines from foreign cultures represented by the speakers or their topics.


Some of our Honors Student Staffers get the special privilege of working with ICFRC, like Stephanie Domingo (the namesake of the name tag above) and formerly Katie Hitchcock. While there are many duties outside of the weekly luncheons, Katie, a senior working toward her BAs in English and Religious Studies, has been gracious enough to walk us through what the main event is really like.

11:30 am| I walk through the doors of the church next to Phillips Hall and am immediately saluted by Ed, the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council Executive Director. We chat for a bit because the interns have gone to pick up the catering and there isn’t much to do until the food arrives. I take this down time to peruse the name tags so that I can see how effective my listserv and social media posts were this week. Informing honors students about these events is the most important part of my job, so I like to see lots of yellow name tags.

11:40 am | The food arrives, and we set it all out. As much as I love Indian food, I’m pretty clueless as to what these different concoctions are all called, so I depend upon the interns to help me get everything in order. Thankfully this week we finally have little cards describing what’s in all of the food, so I can actually have answers for all of the people who ask me questions about what they’re about to eat. Everything that doesn’t fit on the table goes in the ovens to stay warm until we need to refill.


(photo credit: Jessica Waldschmidt. Food from the most recent ICFRC luncheon, “Murder to Justice—Iowa to China: A Cross-National Collaboration”)

11:50 am | With a fair amount of early-birds having already shown up, I get the go-ahead to uncover the food. Let me tell you, the foil lids on some of those containers can be incredibly difficult to remove. With the smell of tikka masala, vegetable curry, and naan filling my nose, I can’t wait until I get to help myself, but first all of the lecture attendees need to go through the line and get their fill.

12:00 pm | I start my half-an-hour of hovering near the food but being unable to eat any of it. (“Shhhh,” I tell my rumbly tummy.) I answer questions such as “Where does the food came from?, What’s in it?, Is it spicy?” I do my best work at answering, but sometimes I have to admit that I don’t know and ask someone else. As various containers empty of food, I go back and forth between the kitchen and the table to replace food. I always feel bad about holding up the line, but hey, if I didn’t there wouldn’t be any more tandoori chicken for folks to eat.


12:30 pm | With the lecture about to start, I get to experience my favorite part of helping out with these lecture luncheons, eating. I load my plate with curry and naan, grab a cup of coffee, and go find a seat. I notice a few stragglers trickling in as I dig in. It’s pretty normal for those who have class until 12:20 to just pop in late. Now I settle in to enjoy an informational and enjoyable lecture. This week’s is on rural water sustainability (click here to watch presentation), but the topics vary widely from week to week.

1:00 pm | The presentation comes to a close and those that must leave do. Others stay and hold up their note cards which they have written questions on throughout the presentation. The interns go collect them while I stay in my seat. Let the Q&A begin!

1:15 | The lecture luncheon comes to a close as the speaker is presented with the coveted ICFRC mug for their work. The attendees filter out and the interns and I begin to clean up and tear down. Another successful ICFRC lecture luncheon is in the books!

If you’re still curious about what ICFRC looks like, check out the awesome informational video on our YouTube channel: -KK

By: Katie Hitchcock, Senior

Areas of Study: English; Religious Studies

Edited By: Katie Kiesewetter, Blog Manager






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