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International Student Association presents ‘Tastes and Sounds of Nations’

Frida Herrera and Pamela Marquez, students in Pitt State’s Intensive English Program, man the Mexico table during Taste and Sound of Nations on Nov. 12. Most tables at the cultural food fair were dressed in traditional clothing, Mexico included traditional sugar skull makeup. Libby Davis

PSU students and members of the Pittsburg community were treated to a night of international cuisine and culture at “Tastes and Sounds of Nations.”

Tastes and Sounds of Nations was hosted by the International Student Association on Nov. 12 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. 

The event included a tasting of various countries from all over the world, with foods like stuffed grape leaves from Jordan, French Quiches, Mexican chilaquiles, and Kenyan chai tea. The countries featured in the event included Scotland, France, Germany, Jordan, Paraguay, Mexico, the United States (serving an American classic: Mac ‘n Cheese and Kool-Aid), Peru, Kenya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Togo, South Africa, Brazil, the Philippines, and Taiwan.  

“We do a lot of things in our office, we do admission, and immigration, but one of the more things is the cultural programming that we make available to our domestic students so they can experience other cultures without leaving campus,” said Aaron Hurt, director of the international programs and services.

Attendees followed a buffet line throughout the lobby of Grubbs Hall. One person could make a stop at each booth and be served whatever they wanted from a variety of different cultural foods as served by the students that are part of the program. Some more familiar foods to American culture are such drinks as Kenyan chai tea, Taiwanese boba, French crepes, and Scottish shortbread. More unfamiliar items such as African peanut butter rice, stuffed grape leaves from Jordan, and German Christmas pastries, or “Christstollen,” were enjoyed by the various attendees of the event.  

Following the tasting half of the event was a series of performances. Students and ISA members performed cultural musical numbers. These performances included: Dancing in Taiwan, a Sri Lankan love song, a Pakistani freedom song, a traditional Paraguayan dance including a dancer placing a bottle on her head and balancing it while dancing, a traditional Peruvian dance, a love song from Mexico titled Besame Mucho, and a cultural dance from Africa. The sounds portion of the event also included an international knowledge Kahoot game, with 3 prizes given to the top 3 winners of the short competition. 

When asked about his Brazilian Hot dogs, Alex Lacerda, a junior master’s student with an emphasis in international business, said: “This reminds me of back home because whenever we would go to soccer games, there were people that would sell hot dogs on the streets. They had toppings on the side, and it was a cart, like a food truck and you would always go ask for hot dogs right before a soccer game. That’s really typical for us.” 

Mary Gathoni, a graduate student in Biology, represented the Kenyan table with chai tea.

“People pretty much have tea all the time,” Gathoni said. “When you wake up, you fix tea. If someone drops in for a visit you fix tea, you have four o’clock tea. Even before you go to bed you fix tea. […] It’s one of those things that my grandma taught me how to make. If didn’t make it right she could tell! Sometimes you must wait for the chai to boil all the way before you add the leaves. And if I got impatient, and didn’t wait for it to boil, then she could tell. She taught me how to make chai tea the right way.”  

“[My favorite part is] Food I would say, and just our view back in our country. It’s my hometown, and everything from my hometown I will love!” said Jackie Chang, a graduate student in communications.  

The night ended with many attendees taking home full trays of the various foods, and rave reviews by the people who tasted each dish. Each dish had its own unique traits that made it special to the country where it came from, and the students were happy to share their culture and traditions with others.  

Aaron noted on his personal connection with the event. 

“I think it’s the relationship with the students, they love to share their culture and it’s exciting to be part of that!”  Hurt said.

The next event planned for the International Student Association includes the Food and Culture fair. This will be a similar event on a larger scale, giving community members and students the opportunity to experience cultures outside of the United States and get a taste for the world. This event will take place on March 5, 2022, at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts and is a fundraiser for the organization.  

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