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Many carve their first pumpkin at Multicultural Community Hour event

Friday, October 30, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 2:03 a.m. CDT, Friday, October 30, 2009
Xiaoling Song cleans out a pumpkin into which she and other students have carved the Chinese characters for "Halloween" during the Multicultural Community Hour at MU's Memorial Union on Thursday. Song says the characters literally translate to "a lot of ghosts festival."

COLUMBIA — As the hands of Renzhe Cao and Xiaoling Song delved into the gooey insides of the pumpkin they were carving, the women giggled and asked how to make the job less messy.

For many in attendance, the Multicultural Community Hour’s pumpkin carving event on Thursday afternoon provided them with their first pumpkin carving experience.

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Multicultural Community Hour is a group of international students that meet once a week to interact with each other and practice the English language. The group holds special events every few weeks, such as a cooking show, a Frisbee game and a Thanksgiving party. The pumpkin-carving event is one of the group's biggest, said coordinator Jackie Li.

Li buzzed around the conference room of Memorial Union handing out carving tools, securing the orange plastic tablecloths and refilling platters of candy and chips.

The room pulsed with conversation and laughter as more participants arrived. The 19 pumpkins had to be shared in small groups to accommodate all.

“We like it,” Cao said as she and Song attentively cut the word "Halloween" in Chinese, their native language, out of their first pumpkin. “We just want to do it perfect.”

The two weren’t alone in their determination. Across the room, Sebastian Haaf and Stephan Vater, two German students who arrived in Columbia last week, perfected a traditional jack-o'-lantern face. The two cut off the bottom of their pumpkin to drain the seedy guts, instead of the top.

“It is the German style,” Haaf said, though he later admitted that it was really just his preference. In the two or three times he had carved a pumpkin before in Germany he had decided he liked it better.

“I don’t like the scar on the top,” he said.

Kanchana Songleittiphong made a birthday cake pumpkin for her 26th birthday today. It featured a birthday cake on one side, and "HBD" on the other which stands for "Happy Birthday." It was the first time she had carved a pumpkin.

“Unfortunately it might be my last pumpkin too because this is my last semester here, and we don’t carve pumpkins in Thailand,” Songleittiphong said. “At least I get to try it one time.”


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