Expo promotes ‘eating and learning together’
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Students and faculty filed through the doors of Carter Hall Friday as the smells of the International Food Expo filled the air.
The International Club hosts the yearly event, and it serves as a way for students from the 23 countries represented to offer a taste of traditional cuisines from their homelands to attendees.
This is true for international student Bastian Grau. Grau, originally from Germany, is a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in sports management.
He said he’s lived in America for six months and his friend from the language lab convinced him to participate in the International Food Expo. He also wanted to answer questions people may have about what German cooking is.
“I know that a lot of people are curious about different food and German sausages. I thought this was a good opportunity to show it,” Grau said.
The dish Grau brought to the Expo was currywurst, something he spent over seven hours making, but he said the time was worth it because of the positive reception of his cooking.
Loc Duong from Vietnam said the International Food Expo helped him during his first year in America because he didn’t have any Vietnamese friends.
Duong is in the public administration master’s program and said this was his second time going to the event.
“Here I can show Vietnamese culture,” Duong said. “These are special pancakes in Vietnam, many people love it, and it shows Vietnamese culture because we are a fish country. Many people [from Vietnam] like fish; they like seafood.”
Duong said this year he had help preparing the food, unlike the first time he attended the event.
He said he and his friends spent around 10 hours making pancakes and fish sauce for the Expo, which was difficult because of class and other responsibilities.
Joel Tshite, a sophomore electrical engineering major who’s originally from Ghana, also participated in the Expo for the second year in a row.
“I really love it here. This is one of the best events we have on campus in the International Program,” Tshite said.
Tshite said he hopes once people see the similarities in the foods’ different cultures around the world, with any luck, it will lead to a new curiosity about those cultures.
“I have to come and make food for the people. I have to come and make people know what we eat,” Tshite said. “Because once you have a taste of what other people eat, you have an idea [of their culture] and maybe you can be interested if you like the food.”
Tshite said yam and spinach stew, the dish he and the other students from Ghana prepared for the Expo, isn’t their favorite, but they wanted to provide a new dish this year because they made their favorite dish, jollof rice, for last year’s event.
President Linda Bennett, who attended the Expo, said she thinks the Expo is a way for the international students to “extend their hands” to the rest of the student body.
Bennett said she doesn’t look at the Expo as being put on by the university.
“The event is put on by the students wanting to welcome each other,” Bennett said. “Food is a big part of it. When you sit together and eat together, you learn together.”
There is no accurate record of when USI’s first International Food Expo took place because the university doesn’t have one, Heidi Gregori-Gahan, Assistant Provost for International Programs and Services at USI, said.
She said the Expo began at least 25 years ago and has grown much since then.
“When I started working here the event had 200 people attending it,” Gregori-Gahan said. “Now there are over 600 people going to it, and we usually sell out all of our tickets.”