Food Festival combines flavor and friendship

By Daniel Morgan, Editor

“Diversity is the spice of life,” and the West Liberty University community is about to get a taste of it.

The SPICES International Club and the International Student Office are hosting the annual International Food Festival on Monday, April 10, from 4-6 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom. Sponsored in part by the Student Government Association and the Office of Housing and Student Life, the event is open to the public with a $1 plate charge per country.

International students and their advisers head the entire event. Participating students choose which recipes to cook, gather authentic ingredients, and prepare various traditional dishes from around the world. Only one dish may be prepared per country, according to International Student Adviser Heather Kalb, so multiple students from one country must agree on a single plate.

2016 International Food Festival

The countries to be represented at the festival include China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, East Timor, France, Germany, Japan, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, the United States, Spain, Tunisia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

“My favorite part is watching the food preparation,” Kalb said. “Some of the students cook at my house, and I get to taste test and help them along the way. I also enjoy watching them working together.” She also said that some of the students will be wearing their traditional clothing during the event.

2009 marked the first year of the food festival at West Liberty. Five countries were represented, according to International Enrollment Services Director Mia Szabo, and the event would soon become an enriching campus tradition.

Students posing at the 2016 Food Festival

“Our students in general didn’t have much exposure to other cultures and diversity,” Szabo said, “so we thought, ‘How do you create that bridge and make somebody more curious and expose them in an easy way.’” The answer became quite obvious: through food.

“My favorite part of the event is to see the community come together in the celebratory atmosphere,” Szabo said “For a special place like West Liberty, to see how much diversity you have on campus in one room in one night is so special because people don’t realize that right now we do have 63 international students, which is 2.6 percent of our population.”

SPICES students are anticipating the event because they want to reach out and connect more with the campus community.

“We are doing this to organize an event on campus to bring everyone together,” said Megumi Maruta, SPICES President. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from or where you belong, it’s just one activity when everyone gets together and shares different cultures from different countries through food.”

“Food is something that we all enjoy, and it’s a part of our daily life,” Szabo explained. “We thought that’s the best way to encourage the students to interact and make friendships across the border.”

Photos provided by SPICES