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For our first monthly Girlfriend series, I thought it was only fitting to start with the one that served as a catalyst for our other events. It was also how I met the ladies who would become some of my closest friends.International Girls Night OutIn college, my girlfriends and I used to call ourselves the United Nation Girls because we were such a diverse group of friends. We came from countries all over the world, including India, Indonesia, Singapore, Ecuador, Sweden, Eritrea, and Korea. It was after a long class project that one of my friends invited me to hang out with some of her friends for a night out in Los Angeles. When I asked her where we were going, she said that it was a specialty food restaurant. Well, it ended up being an Eritrean restaurant (Eritrea is a very small country located in the Horn of Africa). It was the first time I've ever had the food (it's similar to Ethiopian food) and it was absolutely delicious. Afterward, we all went out to the Santa Monica Promenade (also a first for me) and finished the night by shopping and watching the street performers.Everyone had a great time. We had so much fun that we decided to turn it into a monthly Girls Night Out event. The idea was that one night a month, we leave our husbands, boyfriends, children, pets, and work at home and instead think only about the joy of being surrounded by good friends.It doesn't take too much effort to start your own Int'l Girls Night Out. The hardest part is committing to spending one night a month without life's responsibilities and sticking to your "date" with the ladies. Here are some tips on planning your own:* First, appoint one person to host the International Girls Night Out. She doesn't necessarily need to be from another country. She can be from another state or even another town.* To be carbon and budget conscious, use a free email service like Evite or MyPunchBowl. Send out the invitation at least 3 weeks in advance. Remember, LADIES ONLY! Tell them that they must RSVP at least 1 week beforehand. That way, if you have a large party, you'll be able to secure reservations with your restaurant of choice.* Find and make reservations at a restaurant that serves your ethnic food. Make sure it stays true to your roots. Call ahead and let them know that this is a special occasion. Who knows? Maybe the restaurant might give you a special table or extra dressings at your table. Try to find locations that offer reasonable fixed price menu options-it will make it easier at the end when splitting the tab.* Find a fun event to do afterwards that goes along with the theme of the evening. For example, for one of our nights, we went to a Spanish tapas restaurant and then watched flamenco dancing.* Four to seven days prior, update everyone on your RSVP list and let them know the technical aspects of the evening, such as the meal price, whether there is any charge for parking, and what time you'll be heading to afterwards. That way, your friends can make carpool arrangements amongst each other.* As a bonus, at the beginning of the night, whether you are at the restaurant or an initial meeting spot, give everyone a little trinket and some information about your country.* Most importantly, make sure you designate someone to bring the camera and act as the photographer for the night.- Korea: All You Can Eat Korean BBQ, followed by karaoke singing -Mediterranean: A Moroccan restaurant, followed by a group belly dance class-China: Dim sum, followed by a shopping spree in Chinatown-India: A Tandoori restaurant, followed by a Bollywood movie-Texas: A TexMex restaurant, followed by some mechanical bull riding!If you've got any ideas of your own, share them with us!
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