The 20th annual International Food Festival provided international students an opportunity to share a taste of their respective cultures with the rest of the student body by serving food from home.
The food festival, held on Tuesday, Nov. 7, saw students from Bangladesh, China, France, India, South Korea, Laos, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Vietnam serve over 2,000 diners.
Some of the foods available included bubble tea, crepes, couscous and stew.
“Food is a significant part of cultural awareness,” said international student advisor Pat Shelley. “Each country spent five or more hours preparing their food in the kitchen at the Marketplace prior to Tuesday.”
Foods more familiar to domestic students like crepes yielded long lines, while cuisine less commonly known in the United States, such as lassi and fried pork gave the diners an opportunity to expand their palate on an international scale.
“I overheard many comments along the lines of, ‘This is different, but I like it,’” Shelley said.
Fourth-year education major Sam Geffert felt the festival expanded individuals’ perspectives.
“It’s important for all students to expose themselves to other cultures,” Geffert said. “Whether it’s making friends with international students, studying abroad or participating in cultural events on campus, it’s great to use every opportunity to gain insight into the different perspectives of other cultures.”
Out of the many events held on campus throughout International Education Week, the International Food Festival draws in the largest audience and the most participants.
Students enjoy the diversity they can experience by the simple act of sitting down for a meal.
“You only have to pay $9.25, and you can taste the whole world in one day,” said Cecilia Sosa, an international student majoring in education.
Food is a way to connect cultures and to break down borders among individuals, and the festival gives the international students the opportunity to let the American students experience their various cultures.
“I think that it’s important for international students to bring their own culture to SVSU because the dominant culture is pretty much white and American,” Geffert said. “Not seeing your own culture within a predominately white university can be pretty isolating, and the International Food Festival can bring an element of home into the university.”
Sosa agreed that having international cuisine available brings some of the comforts of home to SVSU.
“For (international students), being in another country and culture, we all started learning the American culture and eating their food, and it was hard for many of my friends and me,” Sosa said. “It’s hard to be here and speak another language, but it’s also nice. We have to learn from each other and learn each other’s cultures. It’s great to be able to open our minds and see the world in one place.”