Feast from Around the World: Exploring the Best of International Cuisine at the Food Fair

This past week, Hope College had visitors from all around the world. Visitors from Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America all came together at Hope’s International Food Fair. The International Food fair takes place at Hope once a year to share culture and community with one another through food and it has been a Hope tradition since 1978. The Center for Global Engagement constructed this event with the International Relations Club, which is a student-run group that creates events to foster fellowship across cultures on campus. The International Relations Club consists mostly of international students or TCK (third-culture kids) who are passionate about sharing their culture at Hope College. 

When talking to John Kim, Public Relations E-Board member of the International Relations Club, about why the international food fair is important to have at Hope he stated “I know three languages, but my fourth language is food.” 

John shared about how food is a universal language that people can share and understand no matter who they are or where they are from. Living in Thailand throughout his life, having a Korean nationality, and living in America is an entire mix of cultural identities. Yet, food is a beautiful and understandable way to relate to and celebrate one another. Similarly, Brian Ntwali, an international student from Kigali, Rwanda stated that the international food fair was, “An event when food serves as a bridge and serves groups of people who would never stop to say ‘hi’ or stop to engage about who the other person is.” 

Hope, of course, is a school of prominently American mid-western culture and the food fair invites people to experience something that is unknown to them, but home to many other students on campus – allowing all students to connect. It enables those from different countries and cultures to share with their new home (Hope College) a part of their other home. However, international students state that this goes both ways. Many spoke on how international students enjoyed having a taste of friends from different cultures that one may have forgotten. Others stated that when they attended the food fair, they were surprised to learn some of their friends were of a different heritage than they might have expected! 

Preparing food for this event was no joke. Students spent hours upon hours cooking, shopping for ingredients, planning, and meticulously preparing. Some students stayed up into the early hours of the night before to ensure their food would be prepared properly for the fair. Students spent their entire Saturday from morning to night because of their passion and motivation to share a taste of their home. 

Students on and off the e-board created and hung up posters all around campus. They rallied volunteers to help promote and run the event. Amazingly, the International Food Fair was run solely by volunteers! Students oversaw the ticketing, the stalls, and ensured everyone was enjoying the event. 

While this International Food Fair positively impacts Hope College, it has also made its mark on Holland as many of the attendees even included the local community. Families came out as well as couples, young and old, to grab a taste of Hope College and its diversity. As young children cheerfully ran around the room, older couples mingled with others while enjoying meals from around the world. The International Food Fair even touched the global community as all of the proceeds raised went to the victims of the horrific earthquakes in Syria and Turkey. 

Food cultivates cross-cultural communities. It displays one’s culture without any words being spoken. As witnessed through the International Food Fair, the Hope College campus is rich with distinct, diverse, and beautiful flavor from around the world.

Students enjoy a dinner at Hope College’s International Food Fair on Saturday Feb. 25. (Photo credit: Hope College’s Center for Global Engagement Instagram page)

'Feast from Around the World: Exploring the Best of International Cuisine at the Food Fair' has 1 comment

  1. April 20, 2023 @ 1:05 pm Aurore Shima

    I myself share the love of food and the international food fair was exquisite.


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