The aroma of freshly-cooked foods and spices wafted through the Maas Center on Saturday as students filled the room to showcase meals from around the world. The International Food Fair is an annual event sponsored by the Fried Center for Global Engagement. From 6-8 p.m. Hope students were given the opportunity to sample delicious dishes from the different countries the Hope student body represents. International students comprise 2.3 percent of Hope College’s student body. 12.6 percent are U.S. ethnic minorities.
This event was available to all students to celebrate the diversity of the Hope community. Participating students cooked meals individually or in groups and all wore traditional attire while showcasing their dish at tables that had educational displays pertaining to the different cuisine and cultures. Senior Ismael Byers (‘18) commented on the event saying, “I really like how this event brings both students and community members together to share with one another and enjoy good food and good company – my favorite dish was the Kenyan rice and beans.”
This event raises money for a global cause. This year money went toward support of TASSEL, a non-profit organization whose mission is “to provide continuous, high- quality English education and sustainability services to the under served in rural Cambodia, as well as to nurture and transform the hearts of all involved.” Many in Cambodia are extremely impoverished. Their GNI per capita is among the lowest in the world and close to half of the population lives in conditions that are considered to be “multi-dimensionally poor.” There are also many in the country who suffer from psychological trauma due to the Khmer-Rouge genocide and suffer from stressors like illness, death and a lack of medicine and education. So, as Hope students sampled a variety of delicious foods, they were also provided with an opportunity to raise money for those in urgent need.
If you would like to become more involved in celebrating the diversity of the Hope College community, there are many clubs on campus for those interested. Some of these include Hope’s Asian Perspective Organization (HAPA), the Latino Student Organization (LSO) or the Black Student Union (BSU). There are also a variety of language clubs on Hope’s campus that are open to all.