Pitt State students and Pittsburg community members had the opportunity to experience the many cultures and foods of PSU’s international students.
The International Student Association (ISA) presented the ‘International Food and Culture Fair’ from 5 to 7:30 p.m, Saturday, March 2. at the Memorial Auditorium and Convention Center.
“It’s really important to learn about other cultures because you don’t know what you’re missing until you know it,” said Pankaj Lund, junior in electrical engineering and student from Pakistan. “Then you know it, (and) you say ‘Wow, that happens all over the world.”
The night began at 5 p.m. on the bottom floor of the Auditorium where booths were set up featuring food from 13 different countries. The food was all prepared by the student organizations such as the Chinese Student Association or Brazilian Student Association or by individual students who may not necessarily have a formal organization to represent them. Countries such as France, Paraguay, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, India, Korea, Kenya, and more had food to sample.
“The easiest was to learn about other cultures is their food,” said Jessie Chen, sophomore in English and student from Taiwan. “I loved the Brazilian and French (food). It’s really good (and) I really enjoy to talk with people (and) my friends there.”
Chen said she believed attending such cultural events was an important way to make connections.
“It’s really good to make foreigner friends and friends from all their countries, so maybe if you want to travel there one day it’s easier to get into it, or even studying there,” Chen said.
At 6:30 p.m., students began giving presentations and performances about their respective cultures.
“This is a great opportunity for our students to share with you their culture and to see their smiles,” said Vickie Mense, accounting specialist for the international office and advisor for ISA, as she introduced the performances.
The show began with a cultural dance from members of the Indian Student Association, and following performances included presentations about Pakistan and France, hip-hop dance, a traditional Chinese dance, students from Kazakhstan and India playing musical instruments, a dance by the African Student Association (ASA), a dance from Finland and a Korean duet.
“The performances were pretty good,” said Obinna Ogbuabo, senior in general studies public health, vice president of ASA, and student from Nigeria. “I think everyone performed pretty good.”
The ASA prepared Kenyan and Ivorian cuisine and members danced to Nigerian song ‘Gbona’ by Burna Boy during the evening’s performances. Ogbuabo said he thought the event was an “important time” to share African culture to those that may not know much about it.
“It’s (important to share culture) because it’s such a beautiful culture, that I feel like a lot of people are not exposed to from this side of the world because the media does not show and does not portray the beauty of Africa so events like these are important because we get to showcase our culture.” Ogbuabo said.
Lund gave a presentation over Pakistan and some of the most popular and beautiful parts of the country as well as highlighted significant cultural aspects of it. He also said he believed the night could help “disprove stereotypes” people may hold about certain countries.
“I wanted to participate in the night because people have different mindsets for Pakistan because it is believed to be an Islamic country, so some people also consider it to be a terrorist country or something like that,” he said. “There are many perceptions like that, that are not true… so I wanted to show the positive side of Pakistan: the beautiful places and the beautiful people and all the art they do and all the stuff they do. I wanted to tell them I’m not a terrorist. I come from a beautiful place. It was really a progressive night for me… My favorite thing about the night was when I played the cultural dance of my country.”