Jelena Baričević representing RIT Croatia at "Puttin’ on the RITz” Dinner


Jelena Baričević, our first year student from the IHSM program, was selected to represent RIT Croatia at the 30thannual "Puttin’ on the RITz” dinner, that took place on Saturday, April 18, at Ridgemont Country Club, Rochester, USA.

Dating back to 1986, the "Puttin’ on the RITz” Dinner began as a department wide volunteer activity developed as a means of fundraising for the RIT Hospitality Education Fund. The dinner has always been student managed and organized as a way to showcase and practice their career skills. As is the tradition each year, the dinner has a theme chosen by the students. This year the theme was: Legal and Delicious – The 30th Club at the RITz.

The following is insight from Jelena’s perspective of the event:

April 16, 2015

Even while entering the airplane on my way to Rochester, I was still amazed by this opportunity that was given to me. Having the chance to represent RIT Croatia at our main campus is something that does not come along that often and I intended to make the best of it. Being that this was my first trip to the U.S., everything was new to me. The visa process was simple and painless, the flight to the U.S. was comfortable and I couldn’t wait for my adventure to begin.

We were checked in at the RIT Inn, also managed by RIT Hospitality students, and went to the RIT campus where we had a guest speaker on the topic of "Principles of Advertising.” After learning many interesting facts about commercials being highly developed in the internet realm, we continued with a campus tour. And what a campus! My first impression was that words cannot describe it….I am so happy that I was able to see the campus first-hand because stories don’t do it justice. They have numerous activities taking place, huge buildings; every department has laboratories available to students for their practical work, whether it is an art program or pre-med or engineering, they work in facilities that are equipped to create a top learning environment. Everybody told me that with time, I would get used to the campus being so big, but to me it looked overwhelming! I met a couple of students from the Zagreb campus who were there for the spring semester and all of them were really nice and helpful. Generally speaking, all the people that I communicated with at the airport, in the hotel, or at the campus were super nice and helpful. Following the tour, we had a RITz Dinner meeting with the rest of the students who were organizing the event, in order to find out what I needed to do, who would be at my table and just some other small details about serving, dress code, etc. Later on, Anđela, a study abroad student, took me to her hip hop class which was very fun, since they have to take P.E. (physical education courses) to keep them healthy and on the move.

April 17, 2015

On my second day in Rochester, our host Ms. Maureen Shannon, the Global Programs specialist, took me to see Niagra Falls, which is just an hour and a half drive from Rochester. This was also an amazing experience! We walked all the way to the Canadian side because there is a much better view. As you walk towards them you can feel little drops of water on your face and the air is so fresh.

Afterwards, I went to the Country Club where the dinner was supposed to take place and helped with preparations. The whole dinner was in Gatsby style, from the 1930s, which included a lot of black & gold, feathers, sparkles and a photo booth. It was a long day because everything had to be done on time and we also had to prepare for the cocktail dinner and post cocktail hour. Everyone was really kind and considerate about me not attending the lectures where they learned about how to serve and behave at this dinner. They helped with every question that I had. And they were all trying to create a fun working environment, so there were always some jokes being shared or someone was being really clumsy; all in all, there were many occasions for a good laugh. But, don’t you agree that things get done more easily when there’s a positive atmosphere, right?

April 18, 2015

Finally, the day of the dinner!

This year’s honorary hosts of the RITz Dinner were RIT community members and husband-and-wife, Ms. Christine Licata, Senior Associate Provost, and Mr. Barry Culhane, Executive Assistant to the President.

On the day of the RITz dinner we all had to meet at the country club at 11:30 a.m., so we could catch up with work that was still left to be done. The board members - students who were in charge of putting everything together were already there, and were giving us assignments as we walked into the room. Luckily, the majority of work was already done the day before so we didn't need to do much. Since we came so early and were planning on staying until late at night, those students as well prepared some donuts, sandwiches, chips and drinks for us to eat. After that we started to change into our uniforms. Each year, a Croatian student gets to be a server for one table of ten. Usually, people sitting at that table were previously professors at RIT Croatia. Because this year was a Gatsby theme, girls had as part of their uniforms a gold bowtie and pearled headband and boys had a white bowtie and white suspenders. As guests started to arrive, the cocktail party began with small finger food goodies. After that, each of us had to stand at our table and serve the first round of wine for that evening. For me the evening went really well, even better than I expected. My job was to place and remove plates of food from a large tray that was delivered from the kitchen by another student. One thing that could help students who participate in this dinner event in the future is to get the menu before leaving for Rochester. It is not necessary for our students to know it by heart but for me it would have been much easier if I did. During the dinner I got to meet Professor Jennifer Matic. She was a professor at RIT Croatia for 12 years. She was such a sweet and kind person, and she invited me for dinner at her house the following day.

Overall, this trip was such an eye opener and an absolutely great experience! I am so lucky and fortunate to have been able to go and see the main campus with my own eyes and get to know all these amazing people. Before this trip, I personally wasn't thinking about the study abroad option, but now I am much more open to that possibility. You really have to see it to fall in love with the idea of living and studying in Rochester, our main campus. People at this campus are really great and helpful and they definitely make an effort to make you feel welcome!

RIT Croatia. Different from Day 1.

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