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Students and community get a ‘taste’ of multiple cultures.
Walking into the Schilling Center Wednesday night, students and guests were met with a melting pot of aromas as they waited in line surrounded by decorations and signs depicting fun-facts about different countries. Even Uncle Sam was there to greet the American participants so they did not go into culture shock. On the other side of a large curtain that separated guests from their international passage, tables adorned flags of different nations and music in various languages permeated the room.
During Missions Emphasis Week (MEW), Taste of the Nations is always a welcome tradition among students and guests, according to senior April Hagan.
“This is the social event of the year because it combines food, fellowship and cultures,” Hagan said.
Every year, the Office of International Student Services (OISS) hosts the event and provides the funds for several of Liberty’s international students to get together and create popular dishes from their home countries for other students to sample. An entrance fee of $2 was requested from guests so that the money could be refunded to the OISS.
Countries represented this year included Korea, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Thailand and Germany. Many students return to Taste of the Nations every year not only to experience the food, but to take part in a different culture. Senior Jen Ping is one of many students who has returned to Taste of Nations.
“I’m very into world cultures, and I love food,” Ping said.
This year was sophomore Mahapawn Chukiatiwongul’s first time participating in Taste of the Nations. He and some of his friends joined together to create dishes from their homeland of Thailand. Their dishes included som-tam, a spicy papaya salad, and nam-tok, a spicy pork salad. For Chukiatiwongul, the best part of the event was being able to make the food with his friends, a process that took nearly three hours to complete.
“It’s a big thing with Thai food,” Chukiatiwongul said. “We take time to cook it.”
Some countries’ dishes really stood out to students.
“My favorite was the Germany table because they had awesome Nutella crepes, and their service was exceptional,” Hagan said. “They were the most fun table.”
“Korea’s dish was my favorite,” junior Jessica Facchiano said. “They had this sweet meat that was really awesome.”
The menu for the U.S. table was the classic: apple pie and ice cream.
While MEW is devoted to motivating and providing opportunities for students to get involved in international ministry, Taste of the Nations provides a small sampling of what life would be like in another country through the foods that different people groups hold as important staples of their culture.
“It was a really fun atmosphere with the different countries coming together, and the people were really proud of their native foods,” junior Katie Bowman said. “I would go again — even the crowds are worth it.”