Trays and displays filled the breezeway and scents of foreign cuisine lifted into the library as the Office of International Education (OIE) and the International Student Organization (ISO) offered their cultures to fellow Islanders.
On Nov. 14, students flocked to tables outside of the library to experience an immersion into various cultures. The food tasting and cultural exhibitions, put on by the OIE and ISO, offered students opportunities to try new foods and learn about the customs of international students at the Island University. As a part of International Education Week at the Island, Islander Dining came out with hot trays full of cultural cuisine where food and drinks being handed out represented almost all corners of the map.
“This event highlights the international students for International Education Week,” catering manager of Islander Dining Karla Coker said. “It also educates the students that are not international students so that they can see the type of food and culture from the other side of it.”
There were a variety of foods that represented the various regions in the world. Horchata, a traditional rice and cinnamon beverage showcased Spain and Latin America. Vegetable biryani, a fried rice dish, introduced many students to Persian food for the first time. Arroz antollado Columbiano, an alternative to plain boiled rice, popular in Columbian kitchens. Lastly, the puff puff, hailing from Nigeria, gave Islanders a taste of an African doughnut-like snack.
In addition to the four cultural food options, international student displays stretched down the breezeway. Exhibitions of culture from China, the Middle East and other foreign places invited students to learn about their traditions. Between the hot pans of food and the vibrant displays, a crowd stuck around the event for hours.
“I don’t have many opportunities to try authentic Asian or African food so it’s cool to have that experience,” junior psychology major Tarik Whitmore said.
Whitmore said he and other students appreciate it when other cultures reach out to them because these free avenues of exploration can lead to further understanding, acceptance and unity of students on campus.
ISO said they operate with an objective of bringing together international and native students to educate others about the similarities between cultures and how beautiful foreign places can really be.
“Who knows,” Whitmore said. “I might really like some of this stuff and try to make it myself or find restaurants that serve this kind of food.”