Students get a taste of the world, connect through food

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Taste of the World was a virtual event held on Thursday, Nov. 17 on Zoom and featured various meals from diverse cultures. This event was planned, organized and executed by the students taking Newman’s INTD 301 course, one of whom being junior biology major Claudia Chaverri.

“… As someone who has dual citizenship, I’m an American, but also Costa Rican, and I grew up most of my life in Costa Rica, I thought, ‘What’s the best way to introduce people to different cultures than through food?’” Chaverri said.

One of the goals with the Multicultural Competencies Through Leadership and Service (INTD 301) course is to focus on engaging students with local, international, migrant, immigrant or refugee communities, according to University of Indianapolis Associate Professor of English Karen Newman.

“…It’s a service learning class… the office that hosts this class is the Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement,” Newman said. “…We kind of have a mix of things that are going on in the class to expose students to international populations in the city of Indianapolis. And one of the other things that students do in order to get some leadership experience is they have to organize a campus event that is part of our International Education Month programming.”

Students will be showing themselves making each dish via video and a cookbook will be offered with all of the recipes showcased at the end of the event.  With her connection to her Costa Rican roots, Chaverri teaches viewers how to make Gallo pinto, Costa Rica’s national dish that translates to “spotted rooster.”

The most exciting part of the event is that the dish she is presenting is contradictory to what most would expect from a typical Latin American dish, according to Chaverri, as well as allowing students to step out of their comfort foods and try something new.

“…I think food is the best way to introduce yourself to different cultures. And doing this type of event will welcome people to [learn],” Chaverri said. “It’s also teaching other cultures who will present the dish and then there’ll be a small presentation about that country. So you can leave with more of an educational view of the world.”

Along with Chaverri’s Costa Rican dish, students of other cultures and countries shared some of their favorites. The other dishes highlighted were oxtail stew from Jamaica, biryani from India, tacos from Mexico and bábovka from Slovakia. A cookbook containing these recipes was offered exclusively to those in attendance so students could make these recipes at home, according to Chaverri.

“…I know the students have worked really, really, really hard to make this a fun event,” Newman said. “I’m sure they put upwards of at least 15 hours of planning into this event.”

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