Q&A: Interact’s Paw-llywood Annual Benefit Dinner

MVHS Interact officers share their experience preparing for their district’s annual International Night

Shivani Gupta, Staff Writer

Interact’s Area 12 held its annual benefit dinner to raise funds for its latest international project, the economic crisis in Venezuela on Saturday, March 6.

What is international night?

MVHS Interact International Project Committee co-chair and junior David Hui: International night is a benefit [and] charity show. Basically, the first half of it is a show where we have acts perform and after that, we transition to a dinner. On Saturday, it was held at Fremont HS where we had multiple acts, I think we had acts from every single school and from out of the Area too, and around 7:30 p.m. we transitioned to the cafeteria of Fremont HS to do the dinner portion. Dinner was kind of like a buffet-style.

MVHS Interact Vice President and junior Allison Wu: International Night is a dinner and a show and it’s an annual event that each Area in Interact holds every year. The proceeds from the event go towards the international project of the year which also changes [yearly]. So this year, it’s called “Se Necesita Un Pueblo” which goes towards raising funds for the Venezuela economic crisis, so all the funds we raise for this event and all the funds we raise for other international nights in other areas all go towards this cause.

MVHS Interact Community Project Committee Co-Chair and junior Siddhi Shenoy: Just like [Wu] said, it was a combination of a charity dinner and a benefit show, so we had a lot of performers, we played a few games, they were mostly music performances and then we all had some food afterward.

Can you tell me more about the Venezuela fund?

AW: We’re partnering with SOS Children’s Villages USA and we give the funds that we raise to this organization and then they sponsor certain villages in Venezuela and the money goes towards those villages. So, they’re kind of like the mediating organization between Interact and Venezuela and the crisis going on there.

How does Interact find these organizations or get in touch with them?AW: Just like we have officer positions for our school club, we have officer positions called district positions for the entire district of Interact, and there is one [officer] that looks for these organizations and it’s really based off of what that person is passionate about. So this year it just happened to be about the economic crisis in Venezuela. Previously, we’ve raised money for Syrian refugees. We’ve also done community projects with helping mental health in the Bay Area, and it really just depends on the person who has that position for the year.

What was your experience like at the event?

SS: So, I was an audience member and it was actually my first time attending because [last time] I had a schedule conflict so I couldn’t go. I thought it was really cool because I really admire all the people who were performing, I think that’s also part of bravery I guess and I just really like music. And it was interesting to see all the people from our Area because a lot of the times you don’t really talk to them or see them in person but it was nice to reunite with some of my friends from other schools in our Area.

AW: I was [master of ceremonies] for the show and I also performed during the show, so for me it was really just about putting myself out there. I’m not usually the kind of person to stand up in front of a crowd and do things but it was really just putting myself out there, taking a risk and just going for it, and because Interact is a thing that is extremely important to me, and I was willing to put myself out there for this club. It was really great; it went really smoothly. Of course, there were hiccups along the way, but I think it worked out really well in the end. We had around 100 people attending, which is pretty good. I was surprised at how many people were there and in addition to seeing people from other schools in our Area, we had people from other Areas come as well, I had my friends from Area 7 and Area 11 [come]. Just being able to connect with other people during these events is a really good way of staying connected.

AW: A rotary is like Interact but for adults, and so they sponsor most of our events [and] they were there to support us as well, which is always really encouraging.

DH: The acts were great. We had a K-Pop group from Homestead perform, there was a duet, it was a [co-performance] where two K-Pop dance groups played “Deja Vu” [by NU’EST W]. Aristotle is an amazing singer – I forget his last name but he’s an amazing singer. Then after the show it was dinner. We had a lot of bread from Boudin, like five trash bags full.

What did preparing for this event entail?

AW: So the IPC chairs, they started preparing pretty early, in [September] because they had to find the venue, determine a day, we had to have an adviser there, we needed to determine when we could rehearse, they needed to determine who was going to perform, how long the performances were going to be, who was going to [be the] MC, decorations, finding food. A lot goes into it and our IPC chairs worked really hard to make this event possible. Last year we actually didn’t have this event because there were too many conflicts and it was just difficult to find a venue, I think that was the main thing. But they worked really hard this year and they made it happen.

Do you have anything to add about the event?

SS: The atmosphere is overall just positive and supportive – that’s one of my favorite parts of Interact. The performers were probably nervous, I mean I would be nervous if I were them but after every single performance everybody was cheering super loud and it was a pretty equal amount of cheering for every person. We have our school Interact club and then we have our Area, which is pretty much all the schools in FUHSD, but it doesn’t have to be like the school district or anything. And then we have thirteen Areas in our district and I’m pretty sure there’s way more districts in the entire nation and maybe even other places. I know my dad was in Interact and he lived in India.

AW: So our District, 5170, is actually the largest district internationally. We have the most Interactors and we raise the most service hours and most money. Like Siddhi said, we have thirteen Areas and so our district spans from right south of San Francisco all the way down to Gilroy and all the way to Santa Cruz, so kind of just that triangular area.