Taste of Nations Brings Global Flavor to Liberty University
Liberty University united through a flavorful experience, the Taste of Nations, which presented guests with an opportunity to visit 23 countries’ tables and sample traditional cuisines during Global Focus Week Feb. 20.
Guests inside were greeted by signs, flags from around the world and the scent of international aromas blended together. Featured on stage were Libertad, D-Trex, the Ntiboneras, Faris & Faris on the Jordanian drums, the Congo Family, and the Zumba Club.
“Our Zumba, especially, it shows a lot of Latin American culture,” Zumba Club instructor Kike Caycedo said. “But I think that what is fun about Zumba, especially at those kinds of events, (is that) it’s a performance that you are involved in because you are doing it with us. It’s something that engages the audience.”
With Styrofoam plates, guests went from country to country trying new foods and collecting toothpick flags to display on the sides of their plates. Students from each country put time and effort into preparing their native cuisine for the event. The Indian cuisine, which consisted of raita, naan, chicken tikka masala and the dessert gulab jamun, took around five hours to prepare.
The Taste of Nations is a year-long planning process, according to International Student Center Office Manager and Coordinator Tunya Pannell. Before students leave for Christmas break, they are asked to commit to making food for the Taste of Nations. This allows students who need special ingredients for their food to retrieve those items from their country over the holiday. Closer to the time of the event, each country is given a $250 budget for food to purchase the ingredients necessary for each dish.
In previous years, the Taste of Nations was held in the LaHaye Multipurpose Center, allowing plenty of room for each station’s table, entertainment and incoming traffic. This year however, the event was moved to the Montview Alumni Ballroom, which has a low capacity of 800 guests.
According to Pannell, there were approximately 1600 guests, about 200 more than the previous year — creating a poor match for the size of the Alumni Ballroom.
“We saw a lot of people that were standing in line, and we didn’t want them to lose interest,” Pannell said. “So we would take some of the trays of the food of the countries and go out and serve it to them.”
To maintain a healthy level of guests inside the room, the amount of people who exited was monitored, and according to that number, that is how many people were permitted entrance.
According to Pannell, the international students are the most important part of the Taste of Nations, along with partnerships with departments like the International Students Program, LU Serve, LU Stages, the Student Advocate Office, the Hancock Welcome Center, Sodexo, Global Studies department, the Center4Me and many others.
“I think it brings the university together with other students,” Pannell said. “This is the opportunity where international students get to share some of their traditional dishes that they make with their families back home.”